Be as green as possible in your business

December 1, 2008 By    

The Greenbuild International Conference and Expo was held last month in Boston. The event was hosted by the U.S. Green Building Council to explore the latest green building products and technologies that can qualify for the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design building rating system, a nationally known third-party certification program. For three days I immersed myself in green building products, technologies and education at Greenbuild. I came away comparing the propane industry to what is going on in the fastest-growing segment of the building industry. There are green opportunities for the propane industry, but we have some catching up to do.

Tom Jaenicke
Tom Jaenicke

Energy positioning

The Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) and the rest of the propane industry have done a less-than-stellar job in communicating the environmental advantages that propane has over electricity and other energy competitors. Look for that to change next year as extra attention is paid to our national energy position. The National Propane Gas Association (NPGA) and PERC plan to cooperate on an intensified national dialogue campaign with consumers, the government and the propane industry. Future marketing emphasis should characterize propane as environmentally friendly instead of clean burning so we can tie more into the emotional benefits of using propane.

Blue is the new green as we compare propane’s carbon footprint with other fossil fuels and with our main energy competitor, electricity. In a 2007 Greenhouse Gas Study performed by Energetics Inc. and available from the PERC Marketing Resource Center, electricity is the weakest green energy performer because most electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. In addition, other PERC research is under way that will compare the return on investment and other benefits of propane versus heating sources such as fuel oil and geothermal.

Green your business

Developing these green messages about propane as an exceptional energy choice is important, but it is time we looked in our own back yards to see how green we are in running our propane businesses.

It is estimated that only 32 percent of recyclable materials in the United States actually reach the recycle bin. Most propane marketers are recycling leftover or scrap copper and brass, but they are probably overlooking polyethylene gas pipe, regulators, truck batteries, packing peanuts, office paper, cardboard, plastic and aluminum cans and bottles, used engine oil and lots of other items.

When buying new computer equipment and other office machines, check with your supplier to see if it will take in old equipment to re-purpose or recycle. Unneeded office furniture can be donated to charity. There are now companies that will recycle or refurbish propane cylinders and customer storage tanks. Put a bucket in your office to collect used flashlight batteries. Some of the materials you recycle have a scrap value, so recycling can offset your cost. It is likely that you will be able to downsize your trash service because of your recycling efforts, so you can pocket extra savings there too.

Other green options

Start taking a new look at truck routing and tank monitoring as a means to save carbon emissions through increased efficiency of delivery with less engine fuel used.

You can consider propane injection for your current diesel truck fleet or buy new bobtails already equipped with propane engines. Bio-diesel fuel may be a green option in some parts of the country. The Roush F-150 truck lineup will be expanded next year to include other propane-powered models that will be alternative energy choices for your service fleet.

Ask your tank supplier about the recycled content in the tanks you are buying. Does your regulator supplier have a green story it can share with you? Ask your paint supplier how environmentally friendly its paint products are.

You are delivering green energy to your customers, and now is the time for you and your employees to turn your business green and market it to your customers. Early adopters will differentiate themselves from the competition. Be as green as you can be and your customers will appreciate it.

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