It can be challenging for parks departments to meet the demands of managing many greenspaces while staying on budget and on time. On top of this, private donors and boards are increasingly requesting that funds be directed toward more energy efficient, and sometimes costly, improvements.
However, there is an alternative fuel that can help parks of all sizes manage these challenges and continue to meet, or even exceed, the expectations of local residents, visitors, and budgets — propane. Municipalities using propane-powered mowers, or accepting bids for fleets that operate with the alternative fuel, can benefit from the fuel’s reduced emissions, low costs, and refueling options that can increase crew productivity.
1. Reducing emissions with propane mowers.
For decades, gasoline equipment was the default option for keeping greenspaces well maintained. But the equipment is increasingly facing regulations as research continues to show that the small gasoline engines on commercial mowers and handheld equipment are major contributors to pollution.
In contrast, a study commissioned by the Propane Education & Research Council found that propane mowers produce fewer emissions than gasoline-equivalent units, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent, NOx emissions by 19 percent, and SOx emissions by 16 percent. Propane mowers also meet — and often exceed — emissions standards in municipalities or regions affected by “ozone action days” that otherwise limit use of equipment with internal combustion engines. Because of this, parks can keep summer employees and daily maintenance from being sidelined during a busy season.
The fuel is also recognized by the EPA as a non-contaminant of air, soil, and water, making it safer to use around residents and visitors who enjoy park greenspaces than gasoline, which contains harmful chemicals and can cause damage to grass and grounds if spilled.
2. Low fuel costs can free funds for other projects.
Parks managers and superintendents are often very aware of their annual budgets, particularly in planning around capital projects, such as new recreational facilities, expanding trails, and renovations to existing facilities. With propane mowers, parks can see fuel costs reduced by as much as 30-50 percent compared to regular octane gasoline, allowing those funds to be relegated toward other projects.
One reason for propane’s lower fuel costs is that the price of propane traditionally falls between the prices of natural gas and oil. This greatly limits market price fluctuations compared to the wild price swings that gasoline and diesel often have in a given season.
Propane is also widely available across the United States. In fact, approximately 90 percent of the propane in the U.S. is also produced within the country, which helps insulate costs from the whims of the global oil market and can be a huge help when it comes time to plan budgets.
3. Propane mowers increase crew productivity.
Propane mowers offer several advantages to daily productivity, too, allowing crews to get work done faster and move on to other projects. For one, full propane cylinders can be delivered to a park’s fleet facility or easily filled up from a bulk tank at the end of the day so that crews can quickly load full tanks onto equipment at the start of their day and head directly to a site. Additional full cylinders can even be loaded onto trailers to swap out with empty cylinders during the day, eliminating the need to stop at gasoline refueling stations.
To learn more about how propane mowers can be used by parks and see case studies of current parks departments using the fuel, visit Propane.com/Resources-for-Municipalities.