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Green Industry Going Greener?

Many readers may already know, the term Green Industry refers to the commercial lawn and landscapers that work so hard to keep our yards and neighborhoods beautiful in the hot Florida sun. Green industry professionals stay current on best practices so they can reduce their impact on our environment. Recent studies show that these practices are working to reduce pollution and conserve water. Some industry professionals are looking to do even better.

Alternative Energy Green Equipment

A participant at our “Business Basics for Your Landscape Business” class mentioned that her company only uses rechargeable commercial mowers and equipment. Of course, the rest of the class was full of questions (and full of users of gas powered mowers). We learned from her about the benefits: less maintenance, near silent operation, and fuel savings. So I wondered: is it cost effective for a green industry business to go greener in this way?

A 2017 Consumer Reports comparison of non-commercial lawn mowers shows the cost-over-time of electric versus gas powered equipment.

One company making these mowers in Ohio assures their “products’ operating and maintenance costs run about 5% of the costs for legacy gas-chugging products, and that pros can save between $5.50 and $8.00 per hour of mowing time.   The only routine maintenance is greasing two fittings on the front wheels every 50-100 hours.”   Our class participant shared that her equipment charges batteries overnight – charges have been lasting for a full day of work.  She also said that the ease of maintenance was a deciding factor for her company.  So with a mower that can cost about three times that of a similar size gas-powered model, it really wouldn’t take long to recover that additional up-front cost.

Benefits of Sustainable Equipment

Green industry professionals using sustainable equipment can appeal to a whole new demographic of customers.  A poll of over 1,000 consumers indicated that a majority of respondents would be willing to pay a higher price point for energy efficient products; the same survey showed that trend increasing.   Electric landscape maintenance certainly qualifies here. A recent EPA report found that gas-powered lawn and garden equipment (GLGE) is a prevalent source of toxic and carcinogenic emissions. Compared to one gas commercial mower, one manufacturer’s electric mower can reduce exhaust emissions equivalent to removing about 200 cars from the road per year. 

The noise-reduction feature could be a game-changer for some. Commercial operators in Florida would prefer to start early and end early – before the heat of the day and our afternoon thunder-showers make their job impossible.  But many homeowners don’t want the noise of the service impacting their morning routine too early. Near-silent equipment solves that issue!

Drawbacks of Sustainable Equipment

Electric lawn and garden equipment is a great idea, but has its downside. The upfront cost of the equipment is certainly a factor that can be mitigated over time by reduced maintenance costs.  While our class participant reported a need for only daily charging, other commercial operators indicate they have to re-charge batteries as often as every three hours.  This could disrupt the work flow. However, resourceful business leaders are rising to that challenge. Commercial mowers can be purchased with a solar panel attachment that doubles as a shade maker for the operator. One innovative user is working to install solar panels on his equipment trailer so charging occurs between stops.

As one of those consumers who is willing (but not always able) to pay more for energy efficient products and services, I am excited to see the green industry going even greener.  I hope this trend continues.  If you have a moment, dear reader, please drop a comment and share your thoughts on this growing trend.