GTA uses many modified procedures to ensure that we do everything we can to protect the environment where we live. Sonoma County is known for its wonderful scenery and beautiful hills and valleys. We love this area we call home and want to preserve it for our future generations. Since a lot of what we do as mechanics involve such "dirty work" it is important that we follow all industry regulations regarding clean up, storage, and disposal of materials. At GreenTech, we take things a little further than the industry standard and have improved our shop as a whole and adopted many policies and procedures which go above and beyond, including:
- We have upgraded our lighting system to a system that is much more energy efficient, which greatly reduced our electrical usage and impact on the grid.
- We utilize a ceiling sky light which on sunny days enables us use natural light for the shop and use a minimum of electrical lighting.
- We have sealed the shop floor using heavy duty low V.O.C. epoxy coating to ensure that none of that dirty stuff gets into the ground below the shop.
- We use a modified floor cleaning procedure that is outlined by the State of California's Green Station program which greatly reduces water consumption and ensures no oil, or other fluids, mixes with the mop water. We take extra steps to get oil, antifreeze, and other fluids off the floor before we even wash the floor. This is to ensure that the least possible amount of the oily and hazardous fluids gets mixed with the mop water.
- We crush all of our used engine oil filters. This is a no brainer for any shop. If they are not crushing oil filters with a crush machine then they are sending out hundreds of oil filters with significant amounts of oil in them. I have demonstrated this to many mechanics over the years. A lot of guys think they can just turn the filter over in a drain pan and let it drain for 24 hours or so and then it is ready to be tossed in to the used oil filter drum... WRONG! Last year I did a little experiment to prove a point to a friend of mine. We took several engine oil filters and drained them for 7 days and then we used my filter crusher to see how much oil was squeezed out of each filter. We were both surprised to see that all of the filters, once crushed, released an amazing amount of oil. It was as if they had not been drained at all. This is another process that should be happening in every shop in your town.
- All auto repair shops must use oil filter disposal companies that give you a big drum to dispose all your used oil filters. Once the drum is filled, it is hauled away to be recycled. If a shop crushes its filters, nearly three times as many can fit ino the drum, which reduces how many times the disposal guys need to drive the big gas consuming truck to your shop in a year...think carbon footprint! If every shop in your town simply did this step the fuel savings would be huge.
- We use these devices called funnel buddies which were created to drain oily funnels catching the drips and depositing them into bottles to be disposed of or reused. GreenTech uses funnel buddies for this purpose, but we also use them to drain and catch all the left over oil inside the different oil bottles that we use. We try to reduce container waste whenever possible, but sometimes we need specialty oils and fluids that we can only get in bottles. After we empty them into the car's engine, transmission, radiator, etc., we noticed that there was still a lot of left over oil inside the bottle. So now we turn them upside down into the funnel buddies and drain them over night. Now the bottle is really empty. Some residue remains in the bottle but we have let all the drips out. When we first started using funnel buddies we were surprised at how much oil is captured using this system. If we drain 12 bottles overnight we usually get 1/4 of a quart or so out of them. (This is oil that, if not drained, gets thrown into the trash at most shops). This doesn't sound like much but let's look at the big picture. 12 quart sized bottles drained = 1/4 quart saved. Our shop alone uses hundreds of bottles of fluids and oils per year… imagine if every shop in your town did this. The impact is much bigger now. Our fish and wildlife sure would be better off if we just put in a little more effort as an industry and as technicians.