Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If Green is Lean Why Resist


I attended the Building Green Expo, April 28, to learn more about the green industry and see where I fit in the scheme of things. One thing that amazed me was the low attendance. It was cheap and packed with useful information. I received invitations from Building Green Expo, Webgrrls International, and Urban Go Green months in advance. With so many people looking for work and so many enterprises that have relocated permanently outside of the tri-state region and the nation, I anticipated crowds.

During the roundtable discussions, various green businesses went from table to table explaining their product or service. Tri-State Biodiesel sales manager Dehran Duckworth perplexed and informed me to no end. Rather than selling regular fossil fuel-based diesel, this company sells biodiesel made from used commercial cooking oil. Tri-State Biodiesel has ten trucks that vacuum up the used cooking oil in restaurants' oil traps and deliver it to a processing facility that separates food particles, moisture, and chemicals from the oil to produce biodiesel. It has a different color than the regular diesel however, it's a clean burn with a carbon footprint that's 80% smaller than regular diesel. In fact, the US Environmental Protection Agency gave its seal of approval late July 2010.

The restaurants buy into the service because they have a lawful means to dispose of the waste. Consumers enjoy it because it serves as a fuel for diesel engines and for heating. NYC Mayor Bloomberg signed Intro 194-A which encourages biodiesel use in heating systems on July 26, 2010. “We all know the most cost-effective way to remove pollutants from any fuel is to never burn them in the first place,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But the reality is that New Yorkers burn more than one billion gallons of heating oil each year. By changing the type of oil we use, we will reduce pollutants and spend less money on maintaining and operating our heating systems, while simultaneously reducing our dependence on overseas sources of energy."

The challenge is getting more trucking fleets to purchase it. Duckworth says Tri-State Biodiesel has heard "The color is different from the regular fuel;" "It may hurt the trucks' engines;" "We don't want to clean out the old fuel to pump in this new fuel;" and more from fleet managers. None of these issues are in this plane of reality. The truth is there's no need to install new engines or clean out the diesel engines tanks before putting in the biodiesel. This diesel fuel is compatible with the other and doesn't hurt engines.

Tri-State's ceo Brent Baker spends much time changing minds through the media and exhibiting at events. If he's not meeting with the elected, he's ensuring that a staff member distributed a press release to the media. May 7, the business exhibited at the NHS of East Flatbush-sponsored Eco-Fair in Brooklyn. When I caught up with Duckworth today, he said it is all the media attention that influenced their existing clients to do business with them. Duckworth mentioned concern over pricepoint and mitigating maintenance as the usual business concerns. When asked whether the pricepoint was comparable to regular diesel, he said it was. Do you understand why I'm perplexed? It sounds like a win-win situation but changing minds and habits takes time.

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