Futuristic zero-emission street sweepers could close climate gap
Author: Riley Haun
Colvin and representatives from Climate Solutions have swept the Puget Sound region in recent days on a tour promoting the use of electric sweepers and other large vehicles as a key factor in meeting municipal climate goals. Cities like Vancouver and Bellingham have shown interest in making the switch, as have a handful of private companies, he said. New York City already runs about 500 electric sweepers, Budde said, about 50 of which are hybrid hydrogen-electric models designed to better handle steep hills without sacrificing low emissions. Many Washingtonians have embraced personal electric vehicles as a means of reducing emissions, with over 10,000 registered in Snohomish County and a steady increase in sales each year since 2021. But larger vehicles like semis, sweepers and buses have a lot of catching up to do, with less than 1 percent running on electricity statewide, said Climate Solutions transportation policy manager Leah Missik. “It’s kind of strange to think that while these big vehicles are out keeping our streets clean, they’re polluting our neighborhoods terribly while they’re at it,” Missik said. Several Washington cities have plans to electrify their bus fleets and other large city-owned vehicles, including Everett. City spokesperson Simone Tarver said nine electric buses currently serve Everett riders, with 10 more expected to join the fleet by early summer. The city plans to transition to a fully electric fleet by 2027, Tarver said.