Rowland Hall has again proven its commitment to environmentalism, this time with the installation of electric vehicle (EV) chargers in the parking lot near the Steiner Campus soccer field. Two resourceful Rowland Hall employees, Upper School Head Cross Country Coach Mark Oftedal and Sustainability Coordinator Andrew Hagedorn, worked with local nonprofit Leaders for Clean Air to secure complete funding of equipment and installation.
In a December 1 ceremony at Rowland Hall’s McCarthey Campus, the Utah Governor’s Office of Energy Development (OED) and Leaders for Clean Air cut the ribbon on the EV charging station. The ribbon cutting marked the completion of nine charger installations at six Salt Lake City nonprofits as part of a $10,000 OED grant awarded to Leaders for Clean Air in July. In addition to Rowland Hall, the grant allowed for charger installations at Envision Utah, Hogle Zoo, Artspace Commons, Wasatch Charter School, and Utah Clean Energy (UCE), which was founded by Mark's wife, Sarah Wright. The event brought together local nonprofit, government, and private industry officials leading the way in EV advocacy—a community Rowland Hall proudly joins.
The new charging station proves the power of collaboration between local organizations, community leaders, and Rowland Hall, Andrew said. “It also gives our school the chance to reaffirm the commitment we made as an institution towards doing the right thing, for the right reasons,” he said. “Being a community leader in sustainability means taking collaborative action, just as we did.”
From concept to completion, the project only took a few months. It started over the summer when Mark attended a UCE event with his wife. There he met Hanko Kiessner, founder and CEO of Packsize, a Utah-based custom packaging company.
Hanko told Mark about a Packsize project he began in 2014. He said that, as a response to Salt Lake’s poor air quality, his company started giving away EV chargers to other businesses. The idea was a pay-it-forward business model, wherein the beneficiaries of the donation today would become the benefactors tomorrow. Soon the program became so popular that Hanko registered it as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit called Leaders for Clean Air.
Although many Packsize employees volunteer with Leaders for Clean Air, the nonprofit became a separate entity. Hanko’s son Hansi Kiessner, who is on track to earn his a bachelor’s in business administration and entrepreneurship from the University of Utah in spring 2017, heads up the organization.
One of Leaders for Clean Air’s projects, Hanko explained to Mark, would be the perfect fit for Rowland Hall. In fact, the OED had given them a grant for the exclusive purpose of donating chargers to other nonprofits.
From there, Leaders for Clean Air met with Mark and Andrew to hammer out the details. Andrew’s proposal was quickly approved, and within weeks the chargers were installed near the equipment shed. The proud sponsors immediately tweeted, “2 new chargers installed at the impressive @RowlandHall school! Thank you for leading by example!”’
One of the most challenging aspects of owning an EV is the lack of easily accessible charging stations, Andrew said, and providing the school community with the opportunity to plug in boosts our chances of having more EVs on campus in the future. “We are also sending an important message through providing these chargers free of cost: sustainability is an important value here at Rowland Hall, whether it looks like addressing sustainable and affordable transportation, reducing our waste stream, or generating clean energy.”
In addition to sending a bold message about clean energy at Rowland Hall, the chargers offer a financial perk to the community: according to Hanko, the chargers cost the school a maximum of 80 cents per day, yet are equivalent to a $1,000 pay raise for employees with EVs.