Greening garages

How maintenance shops are deriving savings and benefits from becoming environmentally responsible


City of Chubbuck, ID — When building a new maintenance shop in August 2008, the lights were wired so that they can turned on and off individually so lights can remain off in bays that are not being used, Dale Kinloch, shop foreman, says. The lighting is high-output low-amp draw.

The building’s numerous windows make turning the lights on unnecessary on sunny days, he adds. The air compressor is not turned on until needed and is always turned off at the end of the day so it doesn’t run overnight.

Con-way Freight, Ann Arbor, MI — A provider of regional, inter¬regional and nationwide LTL service, the company has undertaken a number of initiatives to reduce waste and increase energy savings. These include: converted all high-pressure sodium, metal halide and mercury vapor lighting utilized in 15 percent of its shops to more energy-efficient fluorescent lighting; doubled vehicle oil drain intervals; switched to more biodegradable, phosphate-free truck wash, pressure wash and floor cleaning chemicals; converted to single-type, self-cleaning parts cleaners; and implemented an oil recycling program. Total anticipated annual savings are $1 million to $1.5 million.

Con-way Freight initially began implementing green initiatives in its shops in late 2007 as part of parent company Con-way Inc.’s enterprise-wide sustainability roll-out, says Mike Grima, director of fleet maintenance for Con-way Freight. “In 2009, the division dedicated a research and development resource to begin testing and evaluating products that could further boost green efforts in the shops, which the company began implementing in 2010. We continue to evaluate new products on an ongoing basis to further reduce the shops’ environmental impact.”

He says by switching to fluorescent lighting, Con-way Freight anticipates savings of 114,240 kilowatts annually. Other yearly savings: reducing the frequency of oil changes by 50 percent, 164,244 gallons of oil and 17,000 oil filters; converting to non-phosphate cleaning products, an estimated 2,611 pounds of phosphates from the environment; and changing to self-cleaning parts machines will reduce its waste generation by an estimated 8,010 gallons of parts-cleaning solvent.

Last year, Con-way Freight’s waste haulers collected more than 297,193 gallons of used oil from its shops. Recycling this oil instead of disposing of it will result in annual savings of 2,419 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions which, Grima points out, is equivalent to 44,800 propane cylinders used for home barbecues or 5,594 barrels of oil consumed.

Gordon Trucking, Pacific, WA — “Going green is a huge commitment,” says Kirk Altrichter, vice president of maintenance for this truckload carrier that is also a partner of the EPA SmartWay program. “This movement would not be possible if not for the widespread support by all Gordon trucking associates.”

From its environmental practices, not only is there a cleaner, healthier work environment for its technicians, he figures that per year, the company has oil savings of $190,000; oil filter savings of $30,000; savings from switching to rechargeable batteries in excess of $2,500; income from scrap metal in excess of $40,000; 3,000 kWh reduction in energy use per shop for a $725 savings per shop; and income from waste oil in excess of $10,000. The practices helping to achieve all of this:

New filtration technology reduced oil usage and waste oil by 27,000 gallons annually and has extended oil change intervals to 72,000 miles, reducing filter usage and waste by 4,000 filters annually.

Oil and antifreeze are sold to a reputable recycler.

Oil filters are crushed and recycled.

Fuel is saved from each fuel filter or fuel water separator change, then filtered and placed back into the company’s fuel tank.

Antifreeze not contaminated by oil is filtered and placed back into the radiator.

Parts washers are complete recycling systems that clean the dirty solvent to like new and only generate about 1 cup of waste every 3 months.

Brake clean and penetrating oil are dispensed by reusable sure-shot (air-pressurized) dispensers eliminating the use of aerosol cans.

Recycling all steel, aluminum, cardboard, acid and alkaline batteries, scrap tires and copper wire.

We Recommend