Student helps campus landscaping get greener—and less noisy

José Luis Rodriguez

Groundskeeper José Luis Rodriguez on the new electric mower that was purchased using Sustainability Project Investment Funds.

Saira Purhar ’21 was in class one day when her professor acknowledged a loud sound outside that had been occurring since the start of class. It was a gas-powered lawn mower.

The professor spoke of the quieter, eco-positive effects of electric mowers, giving Purhar the motivation to bring this earth-friendly idea to life on University of the Pacific’s Stockton Campus. Consulting with the Grounds Department, she applied for and was awarded Sustainability Project Investment Funds for the purchase.

“There are plenty of ways for students to get involved and bring about change on campus,” Purhar said. “If you desire to be involved in creating a sustainable future, this is your call to action. We need more students taking part and demanding change, because our future is at stake.”

The new mower is used on campus all working hours of the week. It does the same job as gas mowers, but with ecological benefits, and an estimated annual savings of $30,000 to $35,000 on gas and maintenance.

The new mower is expected to result in the university using 2,000 fewer gallons of gas per year. This will consequently benefit the environment, decrease Pacific’s reliance on fossil fuels and save the university money. Additionally, solar panels on the mower help it recharge with zero-emissions.

The mower is the latest addition to Pacific’s growing fleet of electric landscaping equipment. Earlier this year, the Grounds Department collaborated with the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to get electric leaf blowers, chainsaws and a weed eater.

Compared to traditional gas-powered equipment, the new electric equipment will save Pacific thousands of dollars on gas and maintenance. But the most noticeable feature is that the electric equipment produces significantly less noise. This will reduce noise pollution on campus and protect workers' hearing.

Staff using the equipment like how easy it is to use and that it is quieter.

“We are all able to make a beneficial impact at Pacific. You can be part of the change in creating a positive and healthy future for both the planet and ourselves,” Purhar said.

Sustainability Project Investment Funds have previously been used for such efforts as:

·       LED lighting upgrades;

·       Water bottle refill stations;

·       Energy efficient treadmills at Baun Fitness Center.