University of Virginia’s school colors might be navy blue and orange, but the campus has made strides to be a bit greener. Through incorporating some hybrid vehicles to its recycling and maintenance fleet, the university has become the first in the state to earn National Association of Fleet Administrators accreditation. 

XL, a company that works to enhance sustainability in fleet vehicles, coordinated with the university to implement hybrid capabilities on vehicles. XL has worked with The Coca-Cola Co., Verizon, Yale University and the cities of Boston and Seattle. 

“It’s a really big honor,” fleet services coordinator John Jordan said of UVa’s accreditation. “And they [XL] helped us.” 

According to a news release, UVa’s recycling and maintenance divisions have used Super Duty Ford F-250 trucks and a Ford Transit equipped with the XLH hybrid electric drive system. This enables the university’s trucks to be 25% more fuel efficient and produce 20% fewer carbon dioxide emissions. In February, UVa added XLH Ford E-350 Cutaway box trucks to its fleet and is expecting similar results.

Jordan said UVa has rolled out four units so far and aims to include more in the next fiscal year. 

“Colleges and universities throughout the country have been proactive about reducing their carbon footprint, and that includes greening their fleet vehicles,” said Eric Foellmer, director of marketing at XL. 

He says the hybrid and plug-in hybrid electrification systems install onto a wide range of vans, trucks and buses. 

“And because they help protect the environment, they’re very well received by students, staff and the surrounding communities,” he said. 

Using a more environmentally friendly vehicle fleet was also a recent topic at Albemarle County’s ongoing Climate Mondays series, which will conclude later in the month. Jesse Warren, a sustainability program manager at UVa, has been present at several meetings to talk about how the university can be part of larger conversations surrounding climate resilience and climate action. Warren’s office was involved in developing the sustainable action plan for the university’s fleet. 

“I would like to see things like a sustainable action plan done for fleets for the city and the county,” Warren said. “Maybe through this climate action process we can identify that as a long-term goal. What would it look like to set targets for our fleets so that we are reducing emissions in order to both improve the environment, but also to send a signal that this is important to us through local, municipal, and state government?”