5 Areas Where Body Shops Fail to Be Green

5 Areas Where Body Shops Fail to Be Green

Everyone wants to be green, or at least believe that they are running a green shop that is playing by all the rules. But are body shop owners really willing to spend the time, money and effort to be as green as possible? And are they willing to hire an expert to get them there?

Steven Schillinger, 67, is the president of GRC-Pirk and a world-renowned registered environmental and electrical engineer, licensed to certify businesses subject to environmental regulations. Schillinger helps body shops to get energy efficient commercial building IRS 179D Tax Deductions that were established by the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 2005.

GRC-Pirk Management in Reno, NV is a professional engineering and assessment company specializing in U.S. Clean Air & Clean Water Act regulatory compliance. Companies engage GRC-Pirk to develop and implement cost-effective environmental, health and safety records management. The company focuses on integrating compliance recordkeeping into business operation processes through “paperless” digital automation. Schillinger is a committee chair for the Collision Industry Conference (CIC), providing definitions for automotive shop compliance and sustainability, and has more than 40 years in this role. His company primarily works with body shops and sign companies because their operations are similar in many ways.

1.) They're Skeptical: "Body shop owners are a suspicious group anyway, so when we tell them that they can make additional revenue rather than lose money by being green, they don't believe it," Schillinger said. "We can put the facts right in front of them and show them that it is not rocket science and some of them can see the light almost immediately. We try to put it all in non-technical language so that they won't get baffled by the terminology and show them the numbers. But there are always those naysayers out there who don't trust the government or the utilities, so they never act and end up leaving a ton of money (in the form of rebates) on the table. Not everything is too good to be true and this is one of those instances. After they finally decide to work with us to become a greener business and they see the savings, they're no longer skeptical."

2.) They Don't Stay on the Green Path: "Being green eventually becomes a check box item at many shops, and that is unfortunate," Schillinger said. "That means they start out with sincere intentions and then begin cutting corners and fall back into bad habits. For example, when shops get busy, they start improperly disposing of hazardous waste and the painters stop wearing respirators when they have cars backed up. Being green isn't a start-and-stop thing, and to keep it in your shop's culture, it has to be stressed and re-emphasized every day."

3.) Improper Training: "If you don't teach your personnel to make green practices an integral part of your daily production, it's counterproductive in many ways," he said. "Many shops only use their paint booths for curing cars and most of the painting actually takes place out on the shop floor. That's an employee safety concern obviously, but the shop owners rarely enforce it, so it takes place every day in shops all over the country."

4.) Waiting Too Long: "We hear from a lot of body shop owners who are a little frantic because they're being fined by the EPA, OSHA or whatever organization is citing them for not being green," Schillinger said. "It often relates to getting caught for dumping the wrong things through their drains. We will help these shops, because that's what we do. But they should not wait until they get fined to act. Running a green shop needs to be an ongoing process that is continually refined. Putting these items on the backburner can backfire on shops, and it often does. As far as all of the money that is available to body shops through energy rebates, the clock is running out. Starting in 2020, the utility companies aren't going to run these programs anymore. They may extend the deadlines, but the fact is that these great opportunities aren't going to be available forever."

5.) Do-It-Yourselfers: "We sit down with body shops all the time and show them how to save a lot of money by cutting their energy usage in many ways," Schillinger explained. "But when we tell them that we don't work for free, their first instinct is that they can do it without our help. Body shop owners are self-made people and they know how to fix cars, but they also believe that they can do just about everything else on their own, including being green. But whenever we tell a body shop owner that his operation is not really as green as he thinks it is, they don't like it. It's a personal pride thing and it goes back to not knowing what they don't know. I have 40 years of experience finding shops these energy rebates and other incentives, so we're not shooting in the dark here. But some collision repairers, as well as health and safety managers and/or human resources people at the larger MSOs, still think they can navigate through this labyrinth themselves."

Ed Attanasio

Ed Attanasio is an automotive journalist and Autobody News columnist based in San Francisco.

Website Rt Graphic Ep.51 Nancy Rolland 600x400 1.9.24

Shop & Product Showcase