Thursday, 24 June 2010 14:15

Body Shops Going Green Means They Should Also Go Lean

Written by Mike Causey

The recent craze among businesses of all stripes is to use terms such as “green” or “organic” when marketing their respective goods or services. The trend has extended to industries such as collision repair, which is testimony to the marketing appeal of the process because automobile repair shops are often viewed as part of what some call a “dirty” industry.

What is the real definition of ‘Going Green?’  According to one online environmental website: “Going green” means to pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.

That’s quite an ambitious definition, but who doesn’t want cleaner air and cleaner water? When it comes to taking steps to help the environment, small steps can make a big difference in each business.

Obviously auto body shops are not organic in the same sense as growing or selling food, and won’t advertise the “organic” label. However, the “going green” term is gaining ground with body shops from coast to coast, and, increasingly, customers appear to be taking notice.

Although many types of businesses now “paint themselves green” in their self-promotions and advertising, body shops going green seem to gain even greater attention from consumers.

In Clemont, New Jersey, Dan’s Auto Body has a truck with a billboard that reads, “Dan’s Auto Body has gone green. Call and see what we mean.” Dan’s Auto Body of New Jersey has been using waterborne paint for some time, as their truck billboard reflects.

In Dallas, Texas, Bodywerks, an 85,000-square-foot body shop that claims to be “the largest body shop in the U.S”  (average repairs of 500 vehicles a month) became one of the first dealership body shops in that part of the country to switch from solvent-based paints to waterborne paints. Waterborne paints will likely be required in all U.S. body shops within the next decade since it is more eco-friendly and less toxic than conventional paint systems.

In Oregon, Ohio Community College (Owens CC) upgraded its auto body shop to “prepare students for environmentally friendly careers and teach students how to reduce harmful emissions with eco-friendly paint products,” as reported  by WTOL television reporter Chris Vickers.

Owens’ “experimental green auto body shop is the first in the Midwest to feature BASF’s new waterborne basecoat technology which greatly reduces the industrial contribution of ozone,” says Vickers.

A BASF spokesman says waterborne is just as efficient as their solvent-based product while the water reduces the amount of harmful material by nearly 70 percent.

Some reports have suggested that waterborne paints cause fewer health problems such as headaches among workers and substantially reduce the amount of chemicals and fumes in the paint process.

Much of the state of California and some cities in Oregon and Washington require waterborne paints. Ford, GM and Chrysler use the waterborne paints. These waterborne systems are required through out Europe and Canada.

John Harris Body Shops, with several locations in South Carolina, is Going Green.

They have made it their “goal to leave a green footprint in South Carolina and help our environment. Constantly we are looking for ways to recycle our waste without compromising quality. This is one more reason John Harris Body Shop is the right place to have your vehicle repaired.”

John Harris Body Shop promotes that:
▪  95% of all Cardboard is Recycled
▪  95% of all plastic bumpers are recycled
▪  95% of all scrap metal is recycled
▪  JHBS has equipped all office and technical staff with computers so paper files do not have to be generated
▪  All documents are stored electronically (eliminates file cabinets and paper storage)
▪  100% of Steel and Aluminum wheels are recycled
▪  85% of Batteries are recycled
▪  100% of Paint Waste is recycled
▪  75% Fluids such as antifreeze, oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid is recycled

Consider what you can do to help your shop become more environmentally friendly by taking steps to go green. Maybe you don’t want to get a herd of goats to mow your grass, as Google does at their corporate headquarters, but you can change your light bulbs to the more energy efficient ones and educate your workers about recycling, etc.

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