Grounds maintenance equipment getting cleaner, greener
Makers of mowers and other outdoor power equipment are working to meet tougher clean-air standards from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Industry-wide, manufacturers are now addressing stricter emissions standards that are now being phased in for gasoline and diesel-powered mowers.
The current standards include U.S. EPA Tier 4 for diesel and U.S. EPA Phase 2 for gasoline.
What does the future hold for future environmental regulations? Could more regulations be put in place? “There’s nothing at the present time, but possibly additional reductions in emissions could be implemented,” said Bill Harley, president and CEO of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI).
The 74 member-companies of the OPEI are working to find the most efficient fuel mixes for their products. The OPEI, a trade group based in Alexandria, Va., represents the $15 billion landscape, forestry, utility and lawn and garden equipment manufacturing industry.
Grounds equipment manufacturer Jacobsen, a Textron Company, based in Charlotte, N.C. is working on several green initiatives. The company has offered battery electric-powered greens mowers since 1998. The mowers eliminate hydraulic oil and, thus, the chance of pollution through leakage and waste oil disposal. Because the mowers don’t rely on an engine, they produce no noise or exhaust emissions.
The manufacturer also offers hybrid-powered greens mowers that eliminate hydraulics and reduce fuel consumption by more than 40 percent. Its newest riding greens mower, the Eclipse 322, operates with either hybrid or battery power, and runs quietly with fewer parts to wear out.
Another green program that the company has spearheaded is in its use of environmentally friendly fluids. “We were the first to and continue to factory-fill most of our hydraulically driven equipment with biodegradable ‘GreensCare’ hydraulic oil,” said Quinn Derby, Jacobsen’s product manager. “In the event of a leak, this oil will rapidly break down and not contaminate the soil in the way that petroleum-based oil will, which means that grass will re-grow, and water pollution is prevented.”
Jacobsen has developed green technology on other equipment beyond mowers. “Our utility trucks feature electronic fuel injection and catalytic converters to minimize fuel consumption and exhaust emissions,” Derby said.
The company recently received a silver Environmental Excellence Award from the Environmental Management Division of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Utilities. The silver award is presented to companies that are 90 percent compliant reporting and monitoring discharges into the municipal sewer system.