Tips for ‘Greening’ Your Business — From the Office to the Paint Booth

In honor of Earth Day tomorrow, we present a collection of things you can do in your business to help make a positive change for the future.

We’re all trying to make a difference in the world. More and more consumers and businesses recognize the effect of their actions on the environment and the benefits of going green. For businesses, it simply makes good sense. Being ecologically responsible is not only good for the environment, but it also saves money and can bring in more business. Here are things you can do in your business to begin to have a more positive influence, including some tips specifically related to your paint booth equipment:

1.    Lighting

  • Purchase low-energy fluorescent lights, which use half the energy of conventional lights.
  • Install motion-sensored lighting.
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Install skylights for natural lighting.

2.    Paper

  • Set printers and copiers to duplex (printing on both sides).
  • Print only when necessary. Use electronic methods when possible.
  • Purchase paper with at least 30% post-consumer content, and paper towel with at least 35% post-consumer content.

3.    Reusing and Recycling

  • Provide recycling containers at convenient locations throughout your building(s).
  • If you purchase plastic water bottles for your employees, consider purchasing water coolers instead.
  • Provide coffee mugs, glasses and plastic water bottles for employees to use, as opposed to paper/plastic/Styrofoam cups and bottles.
  • If you have a body shop with a car wash, recycle and reuse your car wash water.
  • Recycle end products in shop.
  • Purchase work surfaces, tabletops, doors and flooring made from renewable or recycled materials.

4.    Computers

  • Purchase energy-efficient computers and monitors.
  • Use laptops over desktops whenever appropriate. Laptops consume up to 90% less energy.
  • Use “power saving modes” when inactive.
  • Don’t leave computers on overnight. You’ll waste enough energy to laser print around 800 pages.
  • Set your Screensaver to “blank screen” or “none”. Screensavers can end up using more energy than not having one at all.
  • Buy recycled printer cartridges. You will save around a quart of oil per cartridge.

5.    Energy-Efficient Equipment

In addition to computers and computer equipment, all other office and shop equipment should be examined for energy efficiency.

  • In the office, purchase Energy Star qualified products such as copiers, fax machines, scanners, printers, refrigerators, microwaves, vending machines and water coolers.
  • In your shop, invest in more efficient, environmentally friendly equipment or upgrade the energy efficiency of older equipment.
  • Use low-flow toilets and faucets for reduced water consumption.

6.    Waterborne Paint

As opposed to solvent paint, waterborne paint contains lower volatile organic compounds (VOC). This improves air quality and promotes the health and safety of employees. In addition, many painters say that they get better color match, better quality finish and increased production with waterborne.

Because of the environmental impact of VOC’s, it will soon become required for all body shops in the United States to switch to waterborne paint. Some states, such as California, already require waterborne. The switch to waterborne may require a new or upgraded paint booth, new spray guns and gun cleaning equipment, and a waterborne drying system. Despite the initial investment, the payoff can be great.

7.    Paint Booths

Whether you use solvent or waterborne paint, the efficiency of your paint booth is an important factor. Today’s paint booths are much more energy-efficient than booths manufactured 10, 20 or more years ago. In addition to waterborne drying systems, the following features should be considered when purchasing a new booth or upgrading an existing booth:

  • VFDs: Control the motors on the air makeup intake and the exhaust system. They provide energy-saving smooth motor starts and facilitate the operation of the booth in ‘economy mode’.
  • Direct-fired air makeup: Burn just the amount of fuel that is required to heat the air coming in from outside.
  • Recirculating system: When booth is in bake/dry mode, high temperatures are achieved by recirculating 80-90% of air and bringing in 10-20% fresh air.

8.    Heating/Cooling System

  • Install a heat recovery system, such as the ones sold and used by GFS. This system recovers some of the heat from the air exhausted from process equipment. The recovered heat warms up the intake air that is brought into the building.
  • Install efficient gas water heaters, water oil furnaces or a geothermal heating and cooling system.
  • Install water heater blanket.
  • Install large ceiling fans for ventilation and better heat and cooling distribution.
  • Change air conditioning and heater filters regularly.

9.    Pollution Prevention

  • Properly store and recycle or dispose of hazardous waste.
  • Use low-toxic cleaning products.
  • Replace aerosol w/ pump dispensers.

10.  Travel

  • Use teleconferencing or web conferencing instead of in-person meetings, when acceptable.
  • Encourage carpooling and biking.
  • Purchase energy-efficient company vehicles.
  • When appropriate, have employees work from home offices.

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