City staff in Parks Maintenance are trying out something new this fall: electric grounds and maintenance equipment! Thanks to Duluth’s Energy Coordinator, Alex Jackson, who works in Property and Facilities Maintenance, the Department received three new pieces of electric landscaping equipment to test for performance and ease of operation. Park Maintenance Worker, Greg Hanson, spent time explaining the new equipment to Sustainability Assistant, Hannah Zahn-Hess, and gave her an update on how it is working.
The new electric equipment has been operating for just over a month, and the biggest difference is that things have been a little…quieter. The best news is that staff have not had any major issues with operation or down time!
Due to workload and scheduling, staff are often doing maintenance as people are enjoying Duluth Parks. The new electric lawnmower and weed whip are used every week, and they are based mostly at the Rose Garden and Lakewalk. Greg appreciates how quiet the new equipment is compared to the gas-powered lawnmower and weed whips they’ve usually deployed. “It makes it easier for people to enjoy the Park, without having to listen to loud equipment operating nearby,” said Greg. Another benefit of electric tools: the equipment doesn’t have any air quality impacts! There are no emissions from burning fossil fuels while using this equipment in our Parks.
When asked if the electric equipment could be expanded into other parks, Greg stated that he doesn’t know why we wouldn’t, especially with smaller electric tools. “Investing in spare batteries for the Parks Maintenance team would help,” said Greg. “That way, if we are hopping from site to site, we can swap out batteries and we won’t have to interrupt the work to charge them up!”
Parks and Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, Cheryl Skafte, notes, “We are excited to be exploring the use of electric tools. As resources allow, we are hoping to grow our inventory and expand how we use them in our work.” In the end, it is about using the right tool for the job.
Thanks to Parks Maintenance and Property & Facilities Management staff for your leadership!
Written by Hannah Zahn-Hess, Sustainability Assistant, who is leading a sustainable purchasing project, funded by Healthy Babies, Bright Futures, October 2021