This past year was a great one for assessing your business, evaluating the improvements and changes needed and rolling up your sleeves to get the work done.
One benefit of the downtime we experienced was the opportunity to implement many of the environmental efficiency initiatives we’ve been planning. With Earth Day on April 22, I wanted to share how going green can improve your business and deliver real green to your bottom line.
With three collision repair locations in Ohio – CARSTAR Sidney, CARSTAR Troy and CARSTAR Piqua – I’ve learned that you can deliver great environmental impact with small changes and – with some investment – can really drive cost-saving environmental improvements that reduce waste, improve the working conditions and enhance the quality of our repair work. Our partners at CARSTAR have been very helpful in sharing best practices along with equipment and product options for this initiative.
We started planning our environmental upgrades several years ago and begin implementing these as rolling changes in our physical plant. Here are a few of the projects we’ve tackled:
New lighting. Improving our lighting is something we’ve been doing over the last couple of years; switching from T8 lights to LED lights. It started in our CARSTAR Troy location when I was putting on the last addition and repairing fire damage. We looked into LED lighting and found it to be brighter and use a lot less energy, which makes it very cost effective to operate. Once we upgraded the CARSTAR Troy store, it was a no-brainer to switch the other two locations over to LED lighting. I don’t think you can ever have too much lighting in a body shop – especially the older I get!
New HVAC system. Managing the climate in a large collision repair facility is always a challenge. With cold winters in Ohio and hot summers, open bay doors and high ceilings, you can waste a lot of money trying to control the environment. I’ve had new HVAC systems installed in all three of my locations. These are far more efficient and allow us more flexibility to adjust the temperature for changing weather conditions. And keeping the working shop floor more comfortable keeps our team happier and more productive.
Clean sanding system. These clean sanding systems are a great addition. I have a full vacuum system in the CARSTAR Troy location and portable systems at CARSTAR Sidney and CARSTAR Piqua. They’re great for keeping the work environment a lot cleaner with less dust in the air, which means it’s a safer work space. Once the technician gets used to using it, I think it’s a better and quicker way to work and a lot safer environment, especially in the winter when the doors are down. It also greatly reduces our cleaning time on vehicles in the facility and the facility itself.
Waste reduction. We always try to keep our paint and solvent waste down by using the BASF Smart Track along with the 3M PPS cups. They both help a great deal. Another thing I think helps is educating your staff on the actual cost of all the products. This helps them understand how they can play a big part in keeping costs down and the company profitable by managing how they use the products and controlling wastes.
Recycling. We’ve implemented a recycling program throughout our locations. We have a local company that sets containers for us, one being for plastics and the other for sheet metal, and they haul them off to the appropriate centers. We also work to reduce our paper use by trying to handle most tasks electronically. We’re still evaluating things like a paint thinner recycling machine, but that might be implemented in our next round of improvements.
Certifications. We use Team Safety for all three of our locations to help manage our certifications, and I also have an Air Permit (Ohio EPA) for the CARSTAR Troy location because I have four paint booths in that location. There are other certifications we’re exploring as we fully implement our environment improvements. Once you achieve these, you can see significant tax benefits for your energy improvements.
So far, we’re seeing incredible results from our efforts – cost savings in time and product waste reduction, reduced cleaning costs, decreased energy costs and improved working conditions and team morale. In my mind, going green really does deliver the green!