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Sorting Through Green Technologies

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Greening up your shop can be a challenge. FenderBender talked to Steven Feltovich, manager of business consulting services for Sherwin-Williams Automotive Finishes Corp. and manager of the company’s EcoLean program, about how to choose green strategies that will help reduce the environmental waste—and energy costs—for your business.

Start with an environmental impact assessment. An environmental assessment looks at a shop’s baseline levels of energy consumption, and actually pinpoints areas to improve that would provide the greatest cost-savings and the greatest savings in emission output. Shops can do their own environmental impact assessement with the consolidated screening checklist for automotive repair, which is available from the Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair at ccar-greenlink.org.

The next step is to build a business plan around reducing environmental waste. The plan should be custom-tailored for your facility to track tangible reduction in energy costs and energy that is being consumed. Build a business plan around your long-term goals, and assess how you can tie green technologies into those goals.

Every shop has some critical areas that should be assessed: lighting, air compressors, air dryers, air lines and piping, spray booth, air filtration and air movement. Lighting is a good place to start. High efficiency lighting not only gives you a better quality environment to work in, but also gives you control of your energy and gives you a fairly quick return on energy consumed.

The paint department is the next place that most shops really need to zero in on. The paint department is the biggest driver of energy waste because there are many pieces of equipment that all consume gas and electricity.

Implementing green strategies can sometimes be costly. The best way to make sure you have money available to invest in green technologies is to set aside a certain percentage of your revenue each year, and reserve that for your green strategies.

Don’t forget to look for government rebates that might be available for green initiatives. Get online and look at the local and federal government rebates and credits that are available for reducing carbon outputs. [Check out business.gov’s tax credits homepage for resources: https://www.usa.gov/business] Shop owners should start with either their local chamber of commerce or their state’s small business assistance program.

It’s about becoming conscious and mindful of energy and products, and how they’re consumed and recycled on a daily basis at your facility.

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