Driving Sustainability Movement

The USF Physical Plant Division has purchased and retrofitted new trucks to run on solar energy.


By Jenna Withrow

USF.edu News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (Nov. 23, 2010) – They’re at it again.


The USF Physical Plant Division is continuing its sustainability efforts with the purchase of two rechargeable, electric flatbed trucks.


The trucks run on rechargeable batteries and electric motors, instead of gasoline. This feature alone will reduce pollution, but Physical Plant took it a step further.


Physical Plant retrofitted the trucks with 130 watt rooftop solar panels. With electric power generated by the solar panels, the truck’s batteries won’t have to be charged as often.


Physical Plant Assistant Director Nainan Desai said it is likely that the trucks may never require charging, as the solar panels will provide enough power for on-campus usage.


“Solar energy is clean energy,” Desai said. “Once the equipment is installed, in harnessing solar energy there is no pollution generated. It is infinitely renewable.”


Staff members of Physical Plant’s Building Services Department will use the trucks to deliver supplies and equipment throughout campus. With three gates on the sides of the beds, the vehicles can be easily converted to a pickup truck with a carrying capacity of 3,000 pounds.


Earlier this year, Physical Plant’s energy overhaul took place for another fleet of vehicles – campus golf carts. The division was testing a new solar panel installed on an electric golf cart.


The first solar golf cart conversion proved successful. Desai says the division is now looking for additional eco-friendly conversion projects.


Since the golf cart conversion, Physical Plant has received several inquiries about the solar-powered golf cart. Various divisions on campus, as well as Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Rice University in Houston, Texas have contacted Physical Plant for guidance on how to retrofit their own golf carts.


Physical Plant’s efforts even caught some local press. The St. Petersburg Times wrote a story on the solar powered golf cart in September.


For more information contact Nainan Desai, Assistant Director of Physical Plant at (813) 974-2488.


Jenna Withrow covers student activities and events at USF. She can be reached at 813-974-4014.