This article is part of our new series, The streams, Which examines how fast technology is changing our lives.
Even before the snow of last winter completely melted, the roar of leaf blowers began to calm many cities, Battle of renewed noise Work from home was only intensified as people.
Leaf blowers are not just loud. Small gas-power machines release large amounts of pollutants into the air, subject to less restrictive federal regulation than cars and trucks.
But Jamie Banks, the president of Quiet community, A nonprofit based in Lincoln, Mass., Said it is not a machine problem. “If you just focus on the leaf blower, it solves the whole problem. It is, in fact, a very widespread use of all polluting, fossil fuel-powered equipment that continues. “And, of course, it’s very noisy.”
Ms. Banks, whose organization promotes the use of cleaner equipment to maintain green space, was the primary author of the 2015 report for the Environmental Protection Agency Hazards of gas-power equipment.
According to California, putting the problem in perspective Air resources board, Operating a commercial lawn mower for only one hour is as much pollution as driving a Toyota Camry over 300 miles. For a commercial leaf blower, driving the Camry at a distance of about 1,100 miles in one hour of operation emits pollution.
Change, in the air, can be cured. Technological advances, including equipment that relies on long-lasting lithium batteries, are reducing emissions and reducing noise levels of leaf blowers, lawn mowers, and even chain saws. New and traditional manufacturers are offering power as well as robotic equipment for the home and commercial markets.
And even after that, as a result of factoring in emissions that result from charging devices, battery-powered devices are greener, especially when electricity is generated from renewable resources, Ms. Banks said.
The market for all lawn care equipment shipped annually in the United States is approximately $ 16 billion, according to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, a trade organization based in Alexandria, Va. Most of it is bought by homeowners, and their choice is changing. For example, while gas-power mowers still dominate sales, “the speed with which battery-powered alternatives are gaining ground is remarkable,” said Grant Farnsworth, president of market research firm Farnsworth Group. He said that within the last four years, sales of battery push movers had increased by 4 to 8 percent.
Noise from gas-powered lawn equipment that stands out for people. But how loud are those machines? While the level of sound is usually measured in decibels, experts also rely on what it is known as Weighted decibels, Or DBAs, which take into account not only the intensity of the sound, but also how the ear reacts.
Any “sound above 45 dBA is likely to initiate negative effects,” said John Medina, an associate associate professor in the Washington Department of Bioengineering. Leaf blowers, he said in an email, are “potentially quite dangerous,” because they are “measured at 95BA when close to the ear.” He said that a person standing 50 feet away is exposed to a level of 65–80 dBA.
For noise reduction alone, “robot mowers are the biggest bang for the buck”, said Dan Mebbe, founder and president of the American Green Zone Alliance, or a California-based consulting firm that builds on its own standards and certifications Has been. Areas that lead to emission-free lawn care. Like LEED certification for buildings, the AGZA designation will mean that the community or commercial sector has attained emission-free status in its lush green spaces.
Robot mowers are more prevalent in Europe, where the yards are smaller. According to Frank Rossi, an associate professor at Cornell University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, some companies in the United States have begun offering robotic services.
Chris Saffron, president and chief executive officer of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, said the “labor challenges” in the landscaping market are helping to bring about change.
For example, a labor shortage prompted the Langton Group, a landscaping company in Woodstock, to make changes to emissions-free and cool equipment first, five years ago.
“I simply could not hire enough people and I looked at robotics to solve my labor problems,” said company president Joe Langton. “I realized that we not only saved labor, but helped the environment.”
Last year, working with Mr. Mabe of AGZA, he designated a 29-acre green field in Woodstock, which Mr. Mabe said was the first in the state. The area includes a large corporate complex as well as a cluster of 11 acres in the city.
Langton now has a fleet of 200 robotic mowers, each of about 2.5 feet and just one foot tall, operating in the area. They charge on site, some traditionally through electrical outlets and others by solar energy. Like robotic vacuum cleaners, they can return to charge when they have finished their work (and may be off if the weather is bad).
Each robot covers 1.25 acres constrained by an underground, signal-emitting wire similar to the one used in an invisible dog fence. The family-run company relies largely on equipment manufactured by Huskarn. A Swedish company at the forefront of green lawn technology.
And Mr. Langton said that using robots did not eliminate jobs, but instead changed the type of workers he hired. Now he needs people who can oversee technology and also trim hedges and work on weeds – all with battery-powered equipment.
Robot movers are expensive, which can scare homeowners. Costs can range from $ 1,000 to $ 2,500 depending on the model. But over the life of the devices, battery-powered models ultimately save money, 2017 Analysis Found at the University of Arkansas. Some communities have offered discounts when old mowers or blowers are traded, Mr. Mbe said.
Among the manufacturers providing equipment, Huskvarna is well known, and there are new companies, such as ego And Ambrogio, As well as Mean Green Products, which was acquired in September by a division of Janek Holdings. Market giants such as Toro and Devault now also offer battery-powered lawn care equipment.
Joe Turoff, chief marketing officer for Charon, the parent company of North America’s EGO, said the equipment is comparable to traditional Mowers in size. Depending on the size of the battery, the running time is approximately 60 to 90 minutes.
Those looking after their own yards are moving toward battery-powered blowers, trimmers, and Edgar when purchasing new equipment, Mr. Farnsworth said, with about half of newly purchased blowers and trimmers being battery-powered. .
The biggest hurdle may be the professional market, as recharging is required to handle electrical equipment, say, 10 hours of continuous use. Until there is a solution, he said, the landscapes “may be backward compared to homeowners.”