In the fall of 2022, the Operations team at Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 contacted Prism Engineering to help them explore the potential to reduce carbon emissions and operating costs by replacing some of the District’s fossil fuel-powered maintenance and operations fleet with electric vehicles (EVs).

Prism’s study determined that Rocky Mountain School District No. 6 can meet its operational needs, reduce annual fleet costs, and cut energy consumption and carbon emissions by nearly 80% by electrifying a portion of its fleet.

The School District has three operations yards and 35 maintenance and operations vehicles, including light, medium, and heavy-duty models, as well as several school buses for student transportation. It serves 3,500 students across 18 schools in Golden, Invermere, Kimberley, and surrounding communities. It is located on the unceded lands of the Secwépemc and Ktunaxa People and the chosen home of the Metis People of BC.

Prism provided the School District with an EV Ready Fleet Plan designed to meet the requirements of CleanBC’s Go Electric Fleets Program, a provincial initiative that supports public and private fleets’ transition to zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs). The project also included an EV Charging Infrastructure Assessment and the development of an EV Charging Strategy.

“We conducted a full assessment of their existing fleet of maintenance and operations vehicles and evaluated the existing electrical and charging infrastructure at their three operations yards to determine if the School District has sufficient electrical capacity to support EV adoption,” explains Julianne Pickrell-Barr, Climate Action Specialist at Prism Engineering.

Zero-emission calculator to evaluate impact

Prism’s Electrical and Sustainability teams worked together to evaluate the School District’s needs. Our Sustainability team developed a Zero-Emission Fleet Assessment Calculator to help identify which district vehicles can be electrified and quantify the financial and carbon emission reduction benefits of doing so.

“A variety of vehicle replacement options were considered in the evaluation process. Each vehicle selected and included in the plan was chosen based on several aspects, such as suitability to meet needs and preferences, purchase cost after incentives, and availability in Canada,” says Julianne.

The Sustainability team used the calculator to compare two scenarios. The first looked at the impact of transitioning to EVs across various factors, including carbon emissions, capital costs, operational and maintenance costs, and carbon offsets. The second looked at these same factors if the School District’s current vehicles were replaced with like-for-like models.

The EV Ready Fleet Plan also includes projections of the number of Low Carbon Fuel Credits the School District could potentially earn from EV fleet charging and estimates of the current market value of those credits, adding further value to the study.

Assessment of the charging infrastructure needed

Meanwhile, the Electrical team completed an Electrical and EV Charging Infrastructure Assessment by evaluating the School District’s existing infrastructure and comparing this to its future charging needs based on the fleet transition schedule created by the Sustainability team.

With this information, Prism was able to develop an EV Charging Strategy, which can be used to help the School District plan for the future by identifying the number and types of chargers it will need, as well as the level and timing of electrical infrastructure upgrades (including electrical service upgrades) required to support EV fleet vehicle charging.

“Prism’s contributions have been pivotal in creating a path forward for our changeover to electric fleet vehicles,” says Russell Wagner, Operations Supervisor at Rocky Mountain School District No. 6.

“Their team left no stone unturned, meticulously analyzing every facet of our EV Fleet and Infrastructure Project. And their rigorous analysis ensured that no potential issue went unnoticed, resulting in a comprehensive strategy that addressed all challenges, leading us to 2035,” adds Lisa Clifton, the School District’s Operations Coordinator.

80% reduction in GHG emissions

Prism found that almost 75% of the School District’s current fleet could be replaced with electric vehicles since the vehicles would mainly serve three central locations with a range below 350 km (refer to Figure 1). Meanwhile, for the two vehicles that routinely complete longer trips, Prism recommended plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). The medium and heavy-duty trucks used for snow plowing were identified as exceptions since no viable EV options currently exist in that category.

Figure 1: Maximum daily driving distance by location and vehicle category.

The assessment also found that EV adoption could reduce the School District’s total annual fleet costs (including capital and operating costs) for six of the next ten years, even considering the required electrical infrastructure upgrades and EV charger installations. In addition, EV adoption could significantly impact the organization’s carbon footprint, reducing GHG emissions by nearly 80% by 2036 (refer to Figure 2).

Figure 2: GHG emissions projections under EV scenario.

Ready to transition to EVs

Prism is now supporting the School District to implement the EV Ready Fleet Plan.

“This level of thoroughness instilled us with confidence that our project was in the best possible hands and allowed us to obtain additional grant funding for the next phase of the project, Charging Infrastructure and Vehicle Procurement, for which we have opted to keep Prism engaged,” explains Russell Wagner.

As part of this phase, the Electrical team will provide detailed design drawings for the electrical and EV charging infrastructure upgrades required. The team will also provide implementation assistance during the tender and construction phases.

The Sustainability team will provide specifications for EV procurement and implementation coaching to help smooth the School District’s transition to electric vehicles. As part of this coaching, the team will support the School District to gain internal buy-in and support for this initiative, as well as help staff become more familiar and comfortable with the new EVs entering their fleet.

Figure 3: Gino Folino, of the Operations team, at one of the SD’s EV charging stations.

Reach out to our Climate Action Specialist to discuss how our Transportation Planning services can best support your organization.

Learn more about EV Ready Fleet funding programs:

BC Hydro Electric Fleets
CleanBC Go Electric Fleets
CleanBC Go Electric School Bus
Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund (Transportation)
Zero Emission Transit Fund