Vehicle Efficiency Standards Policy

Establishing carbon reduction goals for Cornell's more than 1200 non-fleet vehicles...

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A Vehicle Efficiency Standards Policy is a Leadership goal in the Cornell Climate Action Plan (CAP).

Establish a campus-wide policy for reduced fossil-fuel consumption among Cornell-owned vehicles.

Goal: Set carbon reduction goals for Cornell's non-fleet vehicles.

Cornell owns a total of 1,354 vehicles (as of July 2013), but only 12% of these are university fleet vehicles available for short-term use by student, staff, and faculty. While major improvements in tracking mileage and fuel usage for the 1,205 non-fleet vehicles have been made in the past few years, Transportation Services has not yet established carbon reduction goals for its non-fleet vehicles.

One major class of low-mileage vehicles on campus is the pickup truck. Transportation Services will partner with other university departments that utilize pickup trucks (Grounds, Shops, Vet College, Plant Breeding, the Plantations, etc.) to explore the feasibility of replacing these low-mileage, high-GHG vehicles with alternative fuel vehicles, namely liquid propane gas (LPG) burning vehicles, to greatly reduce campus vehicle emissions. Each LPG vehicle that replaces an unleaded gasoline vehicle represents a potential 31% reduction in GHG emissions. Many of Cornell’s service vans are also driven primarily within a 10-mile range for various campus work assignments, and these vans are another viable candidate for replacement with LPG fueled vehicles.

A recent event at the East Campus Service Center featured a demonstration of propane-powered trucks for use by various university departments, including Grounds, R5, Shops, and the Plantations. A follow-up meeting is planned for spring 2014 to assess the feasibility and cost of utilizing LPG-powered utility vehicles at Cornell.

The CAP 2013 Update & Roadmap 2014-2015 (pdf) proposes several policy recommendations which were identified by the PSSC focus teams as potential actions the university can take to move our CAP agenda forward and institutionalize change. Key policy recommendations include establishing campus-wide fuel efficiency standards for Cornell-owned vehicles. The PSSC Advisory Board will further explore this policy recommendation during the next two years. Next steps include preparing financial, environmental, and social impact assessments; obtaining approval from the appropriate parties; and convening stakeholders to develop implementation plans.

Next Steps

  • Explore the feasibility of replacing low-mileage, high-GHG vehicles, such as pickup trucks and vans, with LPG fueled vehicles.
  • Work with the PSSC Advisory Board to explore the feasibility of implementing a campus-wide fuel efficiency policy.


Develop a strategy for working with campus stakeholders to encourage the transition to LPG-fueled trucks and vans.