Grounds Cutting Grass While Cutting Pollution

Campus Sustainability Office August 1, 2018

The Cornell Grounds Department has introduced an electric push mower as part of the fleet of equipment for serving campus in order to reduce the carbon footprint of campus landscape work. 

According to Ego, a producer of cordless outdoor power equipment, the annual operating costs of a typical gas-powered mower is $47 while the annual operating costs of a battery-powered mower is only $1.20. The transition of some gas-powered mowers to electric could save Cornell thousands of dollars and tons of carbon. 

According to Dan Schied, Director of Grounds, employees have been more than satisfied with these tools because they are quieter, allowing for time flexibility during the day, and safer since workers are not inhaling noxious fumes. “I couldn’t buy them fast enough,” Schied said in regard to employees’ happiness with the new electric tools.  


Lighten the Lawn Load

Often when we think of gasoline, we think of cars, buses, and motorcycles. But did you know that over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled every year as a result of refueling lawn mowers and garden equipment, according to the EPA? That’s 6 million more gallons than the Exxon Valdez spill in the Gulf of Alaska! If you have a conventional gas-powered lawn mower at home, chances are it is releasing 88 pounds of carbon dioxide and 34 pounds of other pollutants into the atmosphere every year – and that’s just during the warmer months.

Electric mowers are not the only focus for landscaping sustainability. Several electric power tools have been introduced to the team including chainsaws, leaf blowers, and weed whackers. While the mower has been hugely successful so far, purchasing more mowers, specifically bigger ride-on’s, is on hold until formal cost-benefit analyses and evaluations can be done. “We are in year two of a three-year trial,” Schied said.

For more information:
Grounds Department
307 East Palm Rd., Ithaca, New York 14850
Telephone: 607- 254-1661

Learn more about our sustainable Land & Water initiatives on campus.