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Fred Beans helps show students alternatives to traditional vehicles

[singlepic id=12 w=160 h=120 float=left]Twenty-eight Central Bucks West juniors and seniors in Bill Licopoli’s Advanced Placement Environmental Science class had a chance to see how “clean” vehicles and “green” operations can make a difference to our environment.

In December, they were presented with several advanced “clean” vehicles in use right now by individuals, school districts and police departments. Speakers explained the engine changes required to accommodate the alternate fuels, the advantages the different fuels and systems provided to the environment and any challenges the alternates presented. The students had ample opportunity to observe differences between the vehicles—noise levels, odors, vibration, braking, handling, etc.

Then in March the students toured the Fred Beans Cadillac Saab dealership on Easton Road in Doylestown. Besides the facility, which incorporates a number of energy-saving features, the students saw a fuel-efficient hybrid Cadillac Escalade, learned how vehicle emissions testing protects the environment and picked up tips about how proper vehicle maintenance can reduce energy use.

“This assists with our units on energy conservation, alternative fuels and air pollution,” says Licopoli. Through a friend, he was able to get Sharon Haas, who works for the Department of Environmental Protection for the state of New Jersey, to speak to his class. She arranged the vehicle demonstrations with area dealerships and several school districts, then set up the tour at the Beans dealership with general manager Greg Pilong.

“This is an off-shoot of my job at the New Jersey DEP,” says Haas. “It is also my personal contribution to the environment, since educating others about environmental and energy-related issues will show them what they can do to help protect the environment and conserve natural resources.”

Beans provided a PZEV-certified (Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle) Subaru for the December demonstration. The Subaru plant in Lafayette, Indiana, is the nation’s first zero-landfill automotive manufacturing facility—that is, every bit of waste from the manufacturing process is re-used or recycled in some way so that nothing makes it to a landfill. In addition, the Legacy, Forester and Outback PZEV models have 90 percent cleaner emissions than the average new vehicle—sometimes even lower than hybrid or alternate-fuel models. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, PZEV Outback, Forester, and Legacy are among the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicles available in the country, based on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions and overall fuel economy; they are also EPA-certified SmartWay™.

The other vehicles in the demonstration were two school buses: Kathy Ellis, transportation manager, presented Colonial School District’s biodiesel bus, and John Welsh of Lower Merion School District presented its compressed natural gas bus. Thompson Toyota provided a hybrid gas-electric Prius. Matt Biedka brought two Vectrixus USA pure-electric motorcycles used by police departments, rounding out the presentation with some whisper-quiet excitement.