By Debbonnaire Kovacs and Lucas Patterson, posted Aug 11, 2016, photo used by permission.

When I read that Southern Adventist University was adding electric car charging stations as well as the option for students to rent electric cars, I was intrigued, and called Lucas Patterson, the editorial manager who wrote the article (reproduced in entirety below.) I asked Patterson how the program is going. He said the university hopes to have the system up and running by the time school starts in a few weeks. He added that he has already heard from interested alumni who live locally and wanted to know if they could charge their cars at Southern, too. The answer was yes.

Patterson said he loves working in a place where such things are important. For himself, it was love of animals that made him interested in sustainable practices.

“I should care more about the environment itself, but my first love is animals. I keep thinking Eden was vegan, shouldn’t we get used to that? We’re not going to be littering in heaven, we’re not going to be clear-cut foresting in heaven, why would we do those things now?”

Patterson says he is often the only Christian at an animal rights protest, or the only Christian vegan in a room. He said people are often surprised to discover that a Christian cares for such things. He recently went to the Wild Goose Festival, and although there were other Christians there, he said that more than once he met with amazement when he said he was a Seventh-day Adventist. “I don’t like judgmental people, so I’m trying to be very low key,” he said. “I tell people, ‘Maybe we care about the issues for different reasons, but how can we work together now to make this world a better place?’”

As for electric car charging at Southern, Patterson explained that this latest venture is only one part of the university’s commitment to stewardship and care for the planet God created. He talked about the campus farm. They have had one for “a while now,” but it was very small. Recently, someone donated an adjacent house with five acres to the college. The house was in poor condition, and was razed, but the acreage has enabled the campus farm to grow into a community resource. He said it is primarily a classroom, both for students working in agriculture, and for people who will be overseas missionaries, to learn sustainable and self-reliant practices. But now, there will be enough food grown for the university to give some away and sell some. Patterson’s own twin twelve-year-old boys recently got to work on the farm as part of a summer camp experience, and loved it.

SAU also has the second largest solar panel system in Chattanooga, with 832 panels in a 200 kilowatt system. The power generated is sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority, and passed on to some of their 9 million customers. The whole idea originated with SAU’s Enactus team.

Other programs at Southern, detailed at, include occupancy sensors which automatically adjust temperature, lighting, etc. according to whether or not there are people present, more energy-efficient outdoor lighting, student-led recycling, and the fact that an all-vegetarian campus may help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions created by raising livestock for food.

Read on for Lucas Patterson’s article about the electric cars and their charging stations.

Campus Adding Electric Car Rental and Charging Stations
by Lucas Patterson, editorial manager, SAU

Southern Adventist University is partnering with outside transportation and power agencies to host electric car rental and charging stations on campus beginning this fall. Green Commuter, a new California-based company, will provide one or two cars to rent and charging stations with the capacity to handle at least eight vehicles so students with their own electric vehicles can charge them.
Southern was approached to be a part of this project because of its proximity to Chattanooga—a city whose reputation as a technology hub with eco-minded residents continues to rise—and its concentration of students.
“You’ve got a lot of people here on campus who have licenses, they just don’t have a car,” said Marty Hamilton, associate vice president for Financial Administration.
Approximately 20 charging and rental stations are being constructed throughout the Chattanooga area, with each station containing two to six vehicles. A trip from Southern to downtown Chattanooga is estimated at $8. Sierra Emilaire, junior English major, has been without a car during her three years at Southern and sees great value in the independence this new setup brings.
“Knowing that students will be able to rent cars puts my heart at ease,” Emilaire said. “Now I won’t have to shuffle through my contact list when I need something!”
Along with accomplishing the immediate and primary goal of helping students, this electric car program also aids in Southern’s attempt to become better environmental stewards—one of several bold initiatives outlined in the university’s Vision 20/20 strategic plan. Similar steps toward that goal in recent years have included increased recycling efforts, a large solar panel installation, forest trail expansion, and the growth of Southern’s campus farm.