The Air Resources Board of the California EPA reports that a single lawnmower emits the equivalent of 40 new automobiles run for a single hour (non-CO2 air -pollutants; CO2 emissions are small). In the spring of 2004, Tufts purchased an electric tractor mower called the "Electric Ox" made by the Electric Tractor Company.
Using the Electric Ox instead of a traditional gasoline powered tractor produces less CO2 and at the same time reduces noise and local air pollution. Since the Electric Ox is powered by battery and has no tailpipe emissions, it is neither noisy nor smelly. These features not only benefit the operator of the mower, but anyone else on campus that happens to be nearby.
According to the Electric Tractor Company, the Ox uses about 2.0 kWh per hour of mowing while a traditional tractor mower uses about 1 gallon of gasoline per hour of mowing. Mowing for an hour with the Ox releases about 3 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere, whereas mowing with a traditional mower for an hour releases about 22 lbs of CO2 into the atmosphere. While these reductions are not significant in relation to Tufts totals, the co-benefits of this technology are highly visible.
Other more nontraditional options do exist and are being used elsewhere. For example, the Rocky Mountain Institute currently has a contract for 500 goats to graze on the its Windstar Land Conservancy property. Is it possible that implementing such a program on a college campus could serve as a fascinating future interdisciplinary agenda?