Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Greening the shop

We received our latest "services" bill from the City of Statesville and it seemed lower than usual so I went back and looked at the last 15 years worth of bills.....and it was the lowest one yet. The city provides our electricity, sewer, water and trash pickup so it is a decent sized bill. The weather was pretty mild last month so I am sure that helped but we have been slowly working to make the shop "greener" over the past couple of years. I guess it started a couple years back when the city stopped picking up cardboard as part of the trash pickup and installed a couple of centrally located dumpsters. A bike shop does generate quite a bit or cardboard including a large box that encloses each bike. The next step was saving inner tubes for Resource Revival which uses them to make neat items from recycled bike parts. When I was dropping off the cardboard, I noticed a miscellaneous paper receptacle so we set aside a trash can where we put all of our scrap office paper and junk mail. So far we have filled 4 big trash cans full. The restaurant next door has a glass recycling bin so we have a place to put our empty adult beverage containers after a ride. It has taken a couple of years but we have been slowly phasing in compact fluorescent bulbs as the older bulbs burn out. In addition to the bulbs, we started turning off more lights at night and the bathroom light now has a motion sensor on it. The final step was installing a new (non leaky) sink in the bathroom next to the low-flow toilet.

It looks like this has all added up to about $30 a month in savings which will help pay for the improvements.

I almost forgot one of our biggest improvements 5 years or so ago. When we moved into the building, it was still using a cooling tower for air conditioning. This primitive system used a large pump to move water up to the roof where is went through a spray head system that sprayed water onto the tower. The tower was about 4' square and 6' tall with multiple slats on each side. The water was sprayed onto the top slat and trickled down the slats to return to the pond which fed back into the building. The water was supposed to cool off and the system used that temp differential to cool the building. We limped this system along for 8 or 9 years which made for some brutal summer days. You'd be standing out in the showroom with a customer and you would hear the system shut down. This usually resulted in a trip to the roof to clear the rust scale out of the spray heads. Did I mention how hot a black tar roof can get in the middle of summer while changing spray heads in 120 degree water? As a bonus, one trip to the roof was to fish a dead pigeon out of the return pipe!

Ahh, the good old days.