Hybrid-driving employees, students get a parking break

t’s a small ‘green’ gesture that rewards the environmentally conscious and proves just how serious the University of Miami is about conservation.

Faculty, staff, and students who drive a hybrid vehicle can park their cars on campus for half of what it costs to park conventional automobiles. The 50 percent discount on parking permits applies to hybrids with federal mileage ratings of at least 29 miles per gallon.

Parking and Transportation Services started offering the hybrid parking break last year at the suggestion of two UM students who came up with the idea in an environmental-economics course.

Hybrid vehicles, also called hybrid-electric vehicles, work by integrating a gasoline engine, electric motor, and high-powered battery. The electric motor either drives the car under easy conditions or aids the gasoline engine under heavy demand. The battery provides power for the electric motor and, using a concept called regenerative braking, is recharged by harvesting energy that is usually wasted during braking or coasting.

The hybrid parking discount is just one example of how the University is becoming more environmentally responsible. Through the Green U program, a University-wide initiative coordinated by the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, the institution is committed to becoming a community leader in the acquisition of environmentally responsible products and the practice of ecologically sound maintenance and operations procedures (see Veritas, October 2006).