SJA Grows EV Fleet as Revolving Fund Turns Ten
St. Johnsbury Academy’s electric vehicle fleet is growing. Building upon the success of SJA’s first EV, a 2020 Chevy Bolt currently used in Driver’s Education classes, the recently purchased 2022 Ford E-Transit cargo van has joined SJA’s Maintenance and Facilities vehicles. While the Drivers Education car resulted from a generous donation from the AutoSaver Group, SJA purchased the new van outright with money earned through the school’s Green Revolving Fund.
The fund was created in 2013 by then Senior Lily Jarrett ’13 for her Senior Capstone Project, and a decade later, she says, “I am blown away by the fund’s annual revenue growth. What an amazing accomplishment in just ten years! I foresee it growing tremendously over the next ten years as students explore even more effective technologies. The boundaries are limitless.”
She continues, “A big part of the Green Revolving Fund is its stewardship component. The funds empower students by giving them an opportunity to create real change through community involvement, research, and advocacy. It’s a tangible way to give back and “leave this place better than they found it.”
The fund operates by investing in projects that lower the environmental impacts of SJA’s sprawling campus and operations. A Green Revolving Fund project must include student participation. It must also prove that it will save the school money by reducing purchasing, conserving campus resources, or reducing waste to earn approval from the school. SJA then invests annual savings from Green Revolving Fund projects back into the fund, which over ten years has grown from an annual income of $400 to just under a projected $70,000 in 2023, according to SJA Stewardship Coordinator James Bentley. “We started with small projects like switching all the campus lights to LEDs and hosting e-waste collection events. Over the years, we’ve done enough that now we can move to more costly and impactful projects, like buying EVs and charging stations,” Bentley said. “The incredible growth of this fund is a tribute to the forward thinking of our Board of Trustees and administration, notably SJA Assistant Headmaster for Business Affairs Carol Lyon and Director of Facilities Kurt Zschau.”
Zschau said, “this van marks the beginning of our plan to reduce the carbon footprint for St. Johnsbury Academy. With minimal mileage requirements for our on-campus work vehicles, electric vehicles suit our needs perfectly.”
Headmaster Sharon Howell added, “It’s not easy to maintain a Green Revolving Fund, and most schools simply don’t do it. But it is a tribute to James Bentley and the long-standing stewardship vision of the school that we have such a concrete way to measure our sustainable progress. I am also proud of the bold goals we have for our future–our students will benefit from seeing us act on what they are learning about environmental impact.”
SJA students enrolled in the 2021 Field Semester environmental studies class learned about the costs and benefits of the new E-Transit and wrote the project proposal submitted to the school. Hannah Keith ‘23 was one of the students in that class. “It is very satisfying to see the work that we did in class come to fruition and make a real impact on the community and our environment. I am grateful to have been a part of this important step in making the Academy more energy efficient,” she said.
The van is projected to reduce fuel costs by around $2,000 per year while reducing SJA’s carbon footprint by approximately eight metric tons annually. SJA’s goal is to continue to use its Green Revolving Fund to transition all of its vehicles from fossil fuels to electricity as older vehicles, cars, trucks, and buses go out of service.