Plugging in

NASA: Electric Cars Can Dramatically Help Reduce Federal CO2 Emissions, Travel Costs

When it comes to carbon emissions, we’re pretty sure the years of space shuttle missions and rocket launches — not to mention all those sub-orbital test flights — means that NASA has a pretty large carbon footprint.  Now, thanks to plug-in cars, NASA’s carbon footprint is far smaller than predicted. What’s more, it has the potential to save the U.S. taxpayer millions of dollars, too.

It's official: NASA says Electric Cars for the Win!

It’s official: NASA says EV use can dramatically reduce its carbon emissions

Like every other U.S. governmental agency, NASA has been working hard to find ways of reducing its greenhouse emissions. The goal, to meet the Presidential goal of a 12.3 percent reduction in carbon emissions across all Governmental fleets by 2020. Included in this are emissions produced by employees travelling during their work duties, and their daily commutes.

As with any large body, some of NASA’s employees already drive plug-in cars as their personal vehicles, but a study undertaken at the Kennedy Space Centre has demonstrated that the reduction in CO2 and other greenhouse gasses from driving a plug-in car instead of a gasoline one is much larger than NASA thought.

“The numbers are 10 times better than we thought we’d ever see,” said Frank Kline with Kennedy’s Sustainability office. “No one’s ever done a pilot where you get actual numbers. It’s always been estimates only.”

Thanks to a test-fleet of ten plug-in cars, NASA monitored the commuting habits of ten of its Kennedy Space Centre engineers. In exchange for providing free charging at work, the employees had to spend time every day filling out an extensive spreadsheet detailing their commute, including weather and traffic conditions.

Even after accounting for the carbon emissions incurred in producing the electricity used to power the cars, the study highlighted a massive reduction in carbon emissions, accounting for a 15,000 pound reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in just three months and with just ten employees.

Plug-in cars could save the U.S. taxpayer a lot of money.

Plug-in cars could save the U.S. taxpayer a lot of money.

“The biggest one is federal employee commutes — that’s the easiest target to go after,” Kline said. “If we want to stop you from producing greenhouse gases, electric vehicles don’t produce any greenhouse gases.”

With more than 8,000 people employed at the Kennedy Space Centre,  the potential reductions in CO2 are massive. 

“The numbers are really insane,” Kline said. “The program’s first three months only cost $148, and we eliminated over 15,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Over a whole year, we’ll save over 60,000 pounds and that’s just with 10 drivers.”

“What we’re trying to capture is fully electric plug-ins,” Kline continued. “The hybrid is not that different from gasoline-powered cars. It’s better, but if you go electric, that’s really where you see the bang for the buck. Fully electric is where we want to be.”

What’s more, Kline says, the cost of implementing appropriate infrastructure is negligible compared to the costs of traditional travel.  Now multiply those benefits across all governmental agencies, and the potential for both cost saving and CO2 reduction is massive.

If you’re visiting this site, you probably already know the impact plug-in cars can have on our own personal pocket book. But should governments be leading the way more with plug-in adoption among their employees? And do you think the U.S. Government should lead the way by putting in plug-in infrastructure for all of its sites?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.

Hat-Tip: Guy Gooch


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  • Richard Glover

    All governments should encourage public sector employees to go electric especially here in the UK as we produce the lovely Leaf

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