It started as a contentious, decades long debate. Since 1999 the City of Ojai has wrestled with implementing, lifting, reinstating, and enforcing a gas-powered leaf blower ban. After years spent searching for a solution, the city has gone above and beyond, with an entirely electric outdoor power equipment fleet. Everything, from leaf-blowers to zero-turn ride-on mowers, is powered by rechargeable lithium batteries.
Growing — and Mowing — Tensions
“Just eliminate the darn things!” said Councilwoman Betsy Clapp.
“I just think it’s not fair,” countered Abel Carranza. Like other landscapers, Mr. Carranza relies on gas-powered equipment to do his job. Their livelihoods are at stake.
But, said many, lives are also at stake, as is the health of the environment.
Where people did come together was in their frustration. At the ban. At the temporary lifting of the ban. At the changing terms of the ban. At the lack of enforcement of the ban. Councilman Randy Haney quipped, “This is like kicking the leaf down the road… We just can’t seem to get stuff done.”
What became clear, though, was that “stuff” had to get done. The need to ensure the health, safety, sustainability, and economic viability of the city was only growing more pressing.
Gas-Powered Equipment’s Dirty Secret
Mowing, trimming the hedges, blowing leaves and debris from paths… these are all normal, everyday activities. Few of us take the time to realize the impact on the environment, our health, and our budgets. Gas-powered outdoor equipment:
Runs at about 20 - 40% efficiency. Imagine if your car was this bad on fuel!
Uses 1.2 billion gallons of gas each year — and another 17 million gallons are spilled during refueling.
Produces 88 pounds of carbon dioxide, or CO2, and 34 pounds of other pollutants. That’s for a single mower!
Emits 43.26 tons of pollutants each year collectively.
Produces toxic (oil, gas, solvents, cleaners, degreasers) and solid (spark plugs, fuel and air filters, belts, hoses) waste.
Requires frequent maintenance and repair.
Risks the health of operators and others. Lawn and garden equipment is associated with asthma, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, hearing damage, and more.
Is loud. Hearing damage starts to occur with exposure to noises 85 dB and above. Regular mowers run at about 95-110 dBs.
Is expensive! Maintenance, repairs, and all those trips to the gas station add up quickly.
But what’s the alternative? Traditionally, only gas-powered equipment had the power, range, runtimes, and capabilities to handle large and commercial properties. Would electric-powered outdoor equipment be up to the challenges of an entire city with year-round dry conditions?
A Clean Solution
Advances in technology mean that we now have the ability to build and deploy equipment that runs on durable, long-lasting lithium batteries. Power and performance are on par with — and, in some cases, even better — than gas-powered equipment.
But there are a few ways that electric doesn’t compete with gas. It’s nowhere near as loud. It’s nowhere near as expensive, or time-consuming, to maintain. It doesn’t produce any emissions, it doesn’t require any fossil fuels, and it doesn’t put our health, or our planet, in danger.
Ojai decided to put green technology to work for their city. All routine maintenance on municipal properties (about 52 acres in all) will be done on low-noise, zero-emission equipment.
Collaborating for Change
Thanks to a grant from the Clean Air Advisory Fund and the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District, Ojai was able to invest in its green future. The American Green Zone Alliance, AGZA, worked with city officials, as well as the maintenance crews who keep Ojai looking its best, to develop and implement effective equipment recommendations.
AGZA CFO and Communications director Luke Massman-Johnson says, “In embracing electric operations, the city of Ojai has demonstrated inspiring sustainability leadership and vision and gifted its citizens a permanently quieter and cleaner future.”
Noise pollution will be cut by 40-70% and emissions completely eliminated. Councilman Randy Haney said, “You have to see it. I saw mowers running and I didn’t hear anything. I was blown away… Just blown away!
Mean Green Mowers is proud to be part of this monumental transformation. The City of Ojai invested in the mighty CXR-60, a 60” zero turn ride on mower, and the agile WBX-33HD, a 33” walk behind. Well-built, cost-effective, and powerful, these mowers will get the job done right — and help Ojai accomplish its ambitious green goals.
Ojai will also be named an AGZA Green Zone City, only the second in the country. This certification lets residents, visitors, businesses, and others know about the city’s commitment to sustainability and to the planet.
When people see Mean Green Mowers in action, they realize that green technology is not only viable for everything from small residential needs to large commercial jobs; it is the future. A future that Ojai is bringing to life right now.
If you’re interested in seeing the future in action, request a demo from Mean Green Mowers today.