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RSEI 4150 Project Team ELF Proposal
1. Description of project containing all project elements and deliverables.
This proposal is to introduce two Organic Transit ELF (Electric, Light, and Fun) vehicles
to CU Boulder to test their utility as zero emission vehicles for campus use. These enclosed
street-legal trikes are fully solar and pedal powered with a 30 mile range. ELF vehicles can
commute between separate campus properties, while current small vehicles cannot. The
introduction of these vehicles on the CU campus will promote sustainability throughout the
campus, decrease carbon emissions, and provide staff with an efficient mode of alternative
The standard ELF has a payload of 350lbs and provides 87 liters of trunk space. It comes
equipped with a 750W electric motor capable of speeds up to 20mph. Under optimal solar
conditions, the ELF can charge in 7 hours through a 100W built-in solar panel and takes 2.5
hours if plugged into a standard 120V outlet. It is equipped with an 11-15 Ah 48V lithium ion
battery. Most vehicle maintenance can be completed by CU bike mechanics.
The larger OX utility truck has a payload of 500lbs and can travel 30 miles. Both vehicles
include safety features such as turn signals, side mirrors, headlights, brakes, brake lights and
options for increased storage and battery capabilities.
This proposal is a joint effort between Energy Policy Project students (RSEI 4150)
consulting for Campus Fleet on reducing petroleum consumption and emissions, and Dr. David
Cook, Transportation Demand Management Program Manager, CU Boulder PTS. The proposal
is to purchase two ELF vehicles to be managed by Dr. Cook and lent to interested parties for test
driving, including Parking Services, UCSG, HDS, Facilities Operations, Environmental Center,
The students and Dr. Cook will develop a survey that will address issues regarding ease
of use, maintenance, comfort, parking, payload, charging, cost of operation, and travel between
main and satellite campuses in order to assess the potential for wider adoption of these vehicles.
See videos of Duke University Dean and founder Rob Cotter.
2. Matching funds or in-kind support from another source are not mandatory, but must
be discussed and increase the likelihood of funding. Pending applications for funding from
other sources should also be mentioned.
Although we have no source of matching funds, the time commitment of Dr. Cook in
managing pilot tests of these vehicles in various units over the next two years should not be
overlooked as a form of in-kind support. Dr. Cook’s work on this project has been approved by
the Interim Director of Transportation Services, in addition to his regular duties.
Additional Requirements: Large Capital Projects
1. Project timeline, scope, and feasibility
a. Provide a detailed timeline with specific deadlines and deliverables. Include project
completion dates by phase.
1. Once grant is approved, place order for ELF standard model immediately. 7-9 week lag for
production and delivery. If OX funding is approved, notify Organic Transit of interest, request
updates on progress.
2. During 7-9 week lag time
i. work with David Cook on designing survey questions and data management
ii. contact parties who have already voiced interest in the standard (e.g. UCSG)
iii. contact CU Communications to cover arrival of ELF to campus
-contact other 21 universities who already have purchased ELF vehicles and
solicit feedback on their utility. (where do they park them, how do they keep them
iv. If OX funding is approved, re-contact operations units with this option, gather list of
interested parties for future OX pilot.
iiv. (students are also working with Mr. Cook on a utility bike rodeo to be hosted on the
CU campus during summer, 2015)
3. If ELF standard arrives before graduation, coordinate initial training with Denver
-if ELF arrives after graduation, Dr. Cook will manage and coordinate the project
4. current projected delivery of OX model in September 2015, if funded. OX pilot launched.
5. surveys compiled and reported to CUSG Environmental Board once a semester
b. Scope includes requested Sustainable CU funds, number of people needed, and a list of
the campus groups that need to be involved to implement your project
The campus groups that are involved in pilot testing these two ELF vehicles are this
RSEI 4150 Team, David Cook, CUSG, Rec center staff, Operations staff within Facilities
Management, PTS, HDS, and Steve Thweatt. These individuals and organizations would be able
to use the vehicles when they are needed and would participate in the follow-up study when the
trial period is completed. The ELF vehicles would also be made available for demonstrations
with other entities, including other student groups, The City of Boulder, Boulder County, eGo
CarShare, Boulder Transportation Connections, 36 Commuting Solutions, and Boulder B-cycle.
The funds requested from Sustainable CU to RSEI 4150 Project Team are $18,500. The expense
line items are listed individually in the budget attached. Primarily it covers the cost of both the
ELF standard and OX vehicles and secondly the features which would be used to test the utility
of each, including a Cycle Analyst System which quantifies battery charge rates and most
optimal locations for solar charging.
c. To establish your project’s feasibility, please explain how and why you will be able to
meet your projects deadlines and complete the project in a timely manner.
This projects feasibility is high. There is a direct relationship between Organic Transit
and this RSEI 4150 Project Team eliminating intermediaries. There are also firmly established
communications between contributors and stakeholders of this project as well as an
understanding of the confirmed and possible agencies willing to cooperate in the pilot study.
This initiative to bring ELF vehicles to Boulder also has an established long term plan (beyond
Spring 2015) which includes the administration, management and deliverables of ELF vehicles
and studies in the future. Deliverables to CUSG will be coordinated by David Cook of PTS who
is a subject matter expert in this project.
2. Environmental Impact
a. How does your project enhance and protect the environment? Please refer to the
Blueprint for a Green Campus, the CU Carbon neutrality Plan, and CUSG for specific
environmental goals, and show how your project will address one or more of these goals.
The ELF is a zero emissions electric vehicle with solar charging capability. Although this
vehicle is capable, it may never need to draw electricity from a grid source or produce external
emissions. ELFs also could be utilized to replace gasoline powered vehicles in the campus fleet
or for cross campus operations and maintenance, which contribute to CU’s total greenhouse gas
emissions. The ELF’s body structure in made of recycled materials and is produced in a clean,
green manufacturing environment with a long-term commitment to developing a decentralized,
local production model. The purpose of introduction of these vehicles is to reduce campus Scope
1 emissions, which aligns with the University’s Carbon Neutrality Plan to reduce campus
emissions by 20% by 2020 and be carbon neutral by 2050. Utilizing ELFs at CU would also
coincide with the goals of the Environmental Centers, Blueprint for a Green Campus, to “Create
a Climate-Friendly Campus” and increase “Environmental Literacy.” ELFs would help to
promote the culture of sustainability already here at CU, as well as help students to realize their
role in environmental processes by recognizing the steps the University has taken in those
directions. The visible use by staff, students, faculty and administrators would also help to
motivate positive and fun environmental protocols too, while helping to reduce campus
b. Grants that mitigate environmental impact but do not include goals from the above
documents will still be considered. If your grant falls into this category, please clearly state
the environmental benefits that will occur as a result of funding and connect the outcome of
the grant to the above documents, environmental needs at CU specifically, or both
Along with the goals from CU’s Carbon Neutrality Plan and the Environmental Center’s
Blueprint for a Green Campus, the incorporation of ELF vehicles into the campus fleet would
bolster the University’s STARS 2.0 gold rating and reputation as a sustainability leader.
Introducing ELF vehicles would promote the 2011 Campus Master Transportation Plan’s vision
statement, to work with local and regional stakeholders to protect the climate and Earth’s natural
resources and be a model for national and international action. Although campus fleet emissions
account for 1% of campus scope 1 and 2 emissions, it is one of the only areas in which CU’s
emissions are trending in the wrong direction, and is projected to increase with further expansion
to SEEC on the East campus. Incorporating ELF utility vehicles and enforcing our dedication to
reducing campus fleet emissions is a great way to help maintain our reputation as an
environmentally conscious and innovative institution and to remove this black mark on our
3. Student involvement
a. This category is designed to ensure student involvement in projects. Therefore, clearly
indicate the students or student groups involved in your project.
We are a team of 3 students in RASEI 4150, Energy Policy Projects, consulting for
Campus Fleet (Dr. Lisa Barlow, Instructor). We are committed to this project to reduce Scope 1
campus emissions. The class of 17 members is made up of several groups, each one focusing on
specific task. We formally meet as a whole 2 times a week to communicate our progress. If this
proposal is funded, we will continue to work on survey development and other logistics for the
successful continuation of this study. Furthermore, we have received support for this project
from CUSG Sustainability Director Sam Kaiser and VAC Steve Thweet who both recognize the
visible and environmentally friendly fun of putting student reps and campus leadership behind
the handlebars of ELF vehicles.
b. Explain how your project will impact individual students and the larger student body.
How will your project involve individual students in the actual completion of the project?
How does your project enhance the educational experience of students on campus?
By bringing ELF vehicles and technology to the CU Boulder campus the visibility,
concepts of alternative energy vehicles and the reputation of this university as an environmental
leader will be enhanced. Many students have never seen a mechanized “bicycle like” electronic
vehicle, with a solar panel that can function off the grid. This exposure is not only educational
but thought provoking, and would reinforce the healthy outdoor lifestyle and bike culture that is
part of CUs popularity with students. ELF vehicles also promote the same innovative
technology, sustainability, responsibility and safety ideals that CU upholds. As a pilot program
this project also promotes synergy between student groups like CUSG who are interested in
using ELF vehicles and would contribute to evaluating the utility of these vehicles. Periodic
training and access will be open to student organizations such as the Energy Club and
Environmental Studies Club, CUSG and others.
4. Social Equity
a. How does your project contribute to improved social and environmental justice and
equity issues on or off campus? Does your project increase awareness of social or
environmental justice issues?
In a broad sense, this project brings awareness to the responsibility we hold as a
community and as the next generation of leaders for protecting our natural and social resources
(air, water, land, people). As a nation we are dedicated to reducing the production of fossil fuel
emissions. By CU electing to use ELF vehicles it places student and faculty users in the position
to play a part and acknowledge that emission are a problem and that anyone can take action to
reduce emissions for the greater good. Students, faculty, visitors and VIPs would be exposed to a
way to take initiative and reduce local emissions in a new and innovative way. Also, as an
electric assist vehicle the ELF acts as an exercise tool to confront social justice issues like
obesity and mental health. Organizations and supporters like be welltm and the Health and
Wellness Initiative support combating these problems and the promotion of mindful and active
communities throughout Colorado. CU is a great platform for presenting these initiatives because
if its exposure and reputation amongst other colleges nationwide.
a. Sustainable CU rewards innovation and creative solutions to our pressing
environmental problems. Explain how your project is a new idea or new way of addressing
an environmental issue. This section should usually include a description of the existing
problem and any solutions already in place.
The introduction of the ELF on campus will reduce carbon emissions on campus and
demonstrate to the community the efforts that CU is taking towards sustainability. The existing
problem that not only CU faces, but the entire world is dealing with, is the emission of
greenhouse gases. The ELF releases no carbon emissions and helps CU work towards the goal of
sustainability. This vehicle would be innovative and new to our campus, An ELF looks kind of
like a bicycle, but with its upgrades it is a much more efficient and versatile vehicle. Unlike
common bicycles, the ELF provides protection from the elements which will be very useful in
Colorado’s climate. ELF vehicles can accommodate large payloads (ELF standard 350lbs, OX
more than 500lbs) which common bicycles cannot. This vehicle is the first of its kind, in that it
can be human powered, solar powered, or electric powered. It can also be charging from the sun
while being human powered simultaneously. In addition, it provides safety to the rider in the
form of blinkers, headlights, brake lights and side mirrors. Since the ELF requires no gas to
operate, the current operations protocol for vehicle use could begin to change away from
traditional fossil fuel vehicles, towards using renewable energy vehicles.
6. Detailed Project Budget and Savings
Budget document is attached
7. Project Longevity
a. Please explain how your project will continue to provide benefits in the long term, and
whether these benefits will increase or diminish with time. If applicable, will your project
continue to work and be maintained after the present students involved leave campus?
How will long-term continuity be ensured?
If CU decides after the test period that ELF vehicles are worth the investment, and add
more to the campus fleet, there will be many benefits in the long term. Economically, the ELF
vehicles will save money because they can be powered cost free with human or solar power, and
they can use electric power if necessary, but no gas is needed. The ELF vehicles offer health
benefits additionally to their users. They are a great source of exercise and can increase the
wellbeing of the workers each time they are ridden. As more transportation niches are found
these savings could increase over time. CU’s reputation for being a frontrunner in the movement
toward human and environmental health, would be further exemplified by incorporating ELF
vehicles in life on campus. Furthermore, it would symbolize the ideals of many here at CU and
help insure the retention of those students and faculty. Vehicle training for a variety of uses, such
as, service and delivery, general transportation to meetings and personal commuting would be
provided once a semester, as coordinated by Dr. Cook. There will also be future analysis of
vehicle use from the standpoint of payload, distance travelled and operator comments to
ultimately determine the number of ELF-like vehicles that CU could utilize in its campus fleet.
Adding ELF-like vehicles has the potential to reduce related cost savings of buying a traditional
similar-use vehicle and reducing GHG emissions in accordance with CU goals and culture.
Ultimately, after the departure of this project team, David Cook will manage the vehicles as
campus property for the remainder of their lifetime.
Name: Jamal Albaiz, Elizabeth Tandler, Daniel Legg
Email Address: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
University Affiliation: Students (RESI 4150 Student Project Team)
Appendix 2: List of universities who have purchased an ELF vehicle
Arkansas State University
North Carolina School of Science and Math
North Carolina State University
University of New England in Maine
University of New Mexico
University of North Dakota
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Southern Indiana
Virginia Institute of Marine Science