Cutting-Edge Lawn Care

Summer is a busy time of year for Mike Koeritzer of Facilities Operations and Development (FOD). The FOD landscape superintendent says he and his team are beautifying Ohio State’s campus as students return to school this fall.

“We are cleaning up landscape beds, mulching, mowing, edging sidewalks to get the campus looking good,” Koeritzer said.

To aid in the effort, and to address sustainability, Koeritzer’s landscaping team is upgrading their equipment from gas to electric. FOD recently received a $50,000 sustainability grant from Ohio State Energy Partners (OSEP). FOD purchased two electric zero turn riding mowers.

The gasoline powered zero turn mower burns about 1.3 gallons of gasoline per hour. Over the course of a growing season, one electric turn mower saves FOD approximately 500 gallons of gasoline. The equipment also does not use hydraulic or engine oil, which saves money.

“You don’t have service intervals where the oil needs to be changed and you don’t run the risk of spilling fuel,” Koeritzer said.

Electronic mowers also offer other advantages on campus, especially when it comes to noise. Gasoline-powered equipment produces 90 to over 100 decibels, compared to electric equipment, which produces 70 to 85 decibels. The electric zero turn mower is virtually silent when being transported and about 80 decibels when mowing.

“They’re quiet, so we can get out earlier in the morning in the residential areas and we’re not as disruptive around the classrooms,” Koeritzer said.

This grant comes after a $42,000 award the department received from OSEP last spring to invest in electric equipment. FOD bought a riding zero turn mower, push mower, string trimmers, hedge shears, leaf blowers, chain saws and concrete saws.

“The electric tools are usually the first thing people will go to for trimming,” Koeritzer said.

FOD staff has placed vinyl sustainability decals on the equipment, which consist of three arrows: one red, one gray and one green. The stickers were designed by the Office of Administration and Planning Communications team and produced by UniPrint to amplify Ohio State’s brand and highlight the university’s commitment to its Sustainability Goals.

The electric equipment is more expensive compared to the gas-powered tools, but Koeritzer says it’s worth the investment. For every electric machine, a gas-powered tool will be taken out of service. There is some equipment, Koeritzer says, that is irreplaceable like tools used for snow removal, which require more power.