Ram Van Goes Green

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Ram Van Goes Green

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You may have noticed a little more green on our Ram Vans recently! Ram Van is tackling sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint through lowering our emissions and reducing our paper usage. This is important to us, and we know it’s important to you – read on for our latest updates and to see how you can get involved!

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Tackling the challenge

In 2008, Fordham officially announced that it was accepting a challenge posed to all of New York City by Mayor Michael Bloomberg: Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by the year 2030. Fordham as a whole is well on target to reach that goal – and sooner rather than later – thanks to sustainability initiatives being pursued by multiple departments in the University. As a department operating over 50 vehicles and transporting nearly 250,000 people annually, the Ram Van plays no small part in contributing to Fordham’s carbon footprint. Since 2008, the Ram Van has also played a proportionally large role in leading Fordham’s sustainability makeover.

Operating a fleet of 15 passenger vans is a challenge in-and-of itself, and finding a way to improve the fuel efficiency of these massive, yet essential, vehicles was no small task. After two years of research, it was clear that a green alternative to our vehicles simply did not exist. But that did not stop us.

Ram Van was able to find a vendor that was willing to create a custom vehicle just for Fordham. Designed in a joint-effort between Ram Van administrators and custom manufacturers, the customization was based on existing technologies in parallel industries. Our first batch of “test” vehicles was delivered on January 30th, 2010.

We then began a detailed study comparing two varieties of our new vans – one van operating on biodiesel (B20) and one van utilizing standard diesel – to our standard gas vans. We were ecstatic to find that our biodiesel van had a 78% increase in fuel efficiency compared to our gas vans, and the diesel van had a 72% increase in fuel efficiency compared to gas vans.

After continued study and the verification of our findings, Ram Van developed a plan to gradually convert our entire fleet to biodiesel fuel by 2016. This will have a net impact of reducing our total emissions by well over 30%, preventing over 340,000 pounds of Co2 from entering the atmosphere yearly.

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How are we doing?

We currently have 26 biodiesel vans in operation, with 6 more being delivered this fall. By the end of 2015, we will have 32 of our 35 Ram Vans operating on biodiesel fuel. The remaining three gas vans will be phased out in 2016.

As a result of our pioneering success with the 15 passenger biodiesel vans, and based on feedback from other fleet customers, Chevy began producing diesel engine 15-passenger vans the following year. In this way, the reach of Ram Van’s green initiative can extend far beyond Fordham, and we hope our efforts will continue to spread the spirit of innovation and sustainability.

Once all of our vans have been converted to biodiesel, we’re not going to stop there. Ram Van administrators are already making plans to further lower our carbon footprint.

There are many options to explore. Retrofitting our biodiesel vans with a hybrid kit is one possibility. Others involve purchasing electric or natural gas powered vehicles once our current biodiesel vans reach the end of their lifespan. The drive for improvement and innovation never stops here, and we’ll make sure to update you on our progress.

Going paperless

At the same time, the Department of University Transportation has been dramatically reducing the use of paper in our operation. We have replaced all of our previously paper passenger lists with tablets, and will be debuting our brand new digital tickets and digital passes this fall. All in all, we estimate that we have reduced our paper use by 100,000 sheets of paper per year. That’s pretty good!

Do you have any sustainability ideas, recommendations or initiatives that you would like to inform us about? We love to work with students, faculty or anyone in the University community to further reduce our carbon footprint. Email us at ramvan@fordham.edu!


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