A new EV charging station is in the parking lot east of Memorial Chapel.
A new EV charging station is located in the parking lot just east of Memorial Chapel.

Good news for any electric vehicle enthusiast on campus: Lawrence has you covered.

At the beginning of this term, Lawrence’s first electric vehicle (EV) charging station was installed in the Memorial Chapel parking lot. Capable of charging two vehicles at once, the station is fully operational and can be accessed through the ChargePoint app. For only $1 per hour for the first four hours (and $3 per hour for every additional hour), Lawrentians can now charge their electric vehicles on campus.

As one of the last projects to be funded by a grant that supported student sustainability projects and infrastructure improvements to campus, the installation moved fast. Proposed by the Sustainability Steering Committee (SSC) during Spring Term of 2021, the approved project was coordinated by co-chairs Grace Subat, sustainability and special projects fellow, and Jeffrey Clark, professor of geosciences, who collaborated with leaders in Lawrence facilities, technology services, and finance to have the station functional by January.

“As science has shown us, electric vehicles are going to be the way of the future,” Subat said. “We wanted to be ahead of the game and have something in place, so once students, faculty, and staff start bringing their electric cars to campus more, there will be something for them to use.”

For more on sustainability efforts at Lawrence, see here.

After only a few weeks in use, the station already has some regular users—a number that is expected to increase as awareness spreads, and electric vehicles become more accessible.

Looking to Lawrence’s future has been a key driving force behind this project, Subat said. Although EVs are not yet widely used on campus, she wants community members to know that if they are ever considering purchasing an EV, Lawrence has the infrastructure to support them in making a more sustainable choice.

Should the need for EV charging stations increase, this project has the potential to expand through the installation of more charging stations. For now, though, the Sustainability Steering Committee is focused on gathering data to inform future projects: how are people using the station and how can this contribute to a conversation about the future of university-wide transportation?

In the coming months, the SSC expects to focus on their larger goal of sustainable transportation, which has long been seen as a challenge for the committee, Subat said, since it is inherently limited by resources available to individuals.

Nevertheless, the committee is committed to working toward their mission: a task force dedicated to bike infrastructure was formed last year, the committee is looking into ways to reduce vehicle idling on campus, and they continue to promote programs that support sustainable transportation.

“Transportation is something that’s close to a lot of people’s hearts,” Subat said. “A lot of us are bikers, and I think transportation bridges the gap between our outdoor recreation people and sustainability people and accessibility concerns. Working as a group is really important and addressing that issue is really important too.”