Green Summit addresses sustainable transportation

Author: Rachel Novick

Electric cars, bicycles, alternative fuel vehicles, and innovations in public transportation took over Stepan Center in an exciting trade show display on February 29th for Green Summit V: The Future of Transportation.

“Sustainable transportation is a rapidly developing field, and we wanted to create a setting in which the ND community could connect directly with those who are redefining what’s possible,” explained Rachel Novick of the Office of Sustainability. “Experts were on hand at the Summit to answer questions about battery technology, charging stations, electric bikes, and much more.”

Attendees had a chance to explore cutting-edge vehicles such as the Mitsubishi i-MiEV and the Nissan Leaf as well as vehicles that have been converted to use compressed natural gas. Other participants in the trade show included Transpo, the Avenue Bicycle Station, and ZipCar.

The program also featured a panel discussion that covered a wide spectrum of topics critical to creating a sustainable transportation system, from technological advances to infrastructure requirements to community impacts. Panelists included Dean Gregory Crawford of the College of Science, Carl Lisek of South Shore Clean Cities, and Derek Strittmatter, an electric vehicle specialist at Eaton Corporation.

“Through our collaboration, Notre Dame and Eaton are further paving the way for the development of infrastructure to support the expanded use of electric vehicles,” said John Wirtz, business unit manager of Eaton’s Electrical Transportation Infrastructure. Eaton has provided a number of EV charging stations to Notre Dame that have been installed in key locations around campus, and the company displayed an electric vehicle as well as a charging station at the Summit. “We are looking forward to expanding our work on this innovative technology at Notre Dame as we strive to help reduce the energy consumption and carbon footprint on campus,” added Wirtz.

The Green Summit is a community-wide event that brings together hundreds of faculty, staff, and students to explore an aspect of sustainability and its role in campus life. In the Summit’s history, many recommendations and discussions have been a foundation for developing new campus sustainability initiatives. “We look forward to the rich discussion this year’s event will foster in order to help us develop new ideas for the future of transportation here at Notre Dame,” said Marty Ogren, Associate Director of Warehouse, Delivery and Transportation.

“Due to escalating fuel costs and attendant environmental impacts, we need to look beyond traditional fuels in order to maintain our transportation security,” said Jon Burke, Energy Director for the City of South Bend and one of the presenters at the trade show. “We appreciated the opportunity to share our vision for enhancing the sustainability of South Bend’s transportation systems at the Summit.”

This year’s Summit was generously co-sponsored by Transportation Services, the College of Science, the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame, and GreeND.