Guest Contributor: Randy McManus, CEO, Willamette Landscape Services
As a company, Willamette Landscape Services takes pride in discovering new materials and equipment which minimize our impact on the environment. Since becoming EcoBiz Certified in 2010, the “fun factor” of improving operations has only increased.Very recently, battery-powered electric equipment of several brands (Stihl, Core, and Greenworks) has been coming to market, and is beginning to bridge the performance gap with traditional fuel power. The promise of this new generation of quiet, emissions-free equipment is tantalizing!
The logistics of utilizing battery-powered equipment, however, must provide for methods to store, transport and recharge large numbers of batteries. Since batteries do not yet exist that will supply power for a full day’s use, spare batteries and overnight or in-field recharging options are essential.
We decided that we wanted to take battery recharging to another sustainable level by using the sun as our source of electricity. While this could be accomplished by installing a facility-based solar-powered re-charging station, our favorite option was to install solar panels and the associated hardware right onto our work trucks.
In addition to reducing emissions, battery powered equipment runs quieter and does not idle; a huge plus in neighborhoods and urban environments. When customers have come across our solar powered crews, the response has been extremely positive. Whether they will pay more for that benefit remains to be determined. There is much yet to be learned about the total cost, as well as the effectiveness of our first generation set-ups. But we can almost certainly say that electric equipment will be the way of the future.