I recently received a thoughtful email from a reader in regards to using fuel containing high levels of ethanol. By high levels I mean gasoline containing 15 percent ethanol (E15 fuel) or more. The reader made two key points in referencing a column I wrote in the December issue of Turf magazine:

1. Be careful of the fuel you use in your gasoline-powered landscape equipment. If it’s older equipment, do not use fuel with more than 15 percent (E15) ethanol.

2. Manufacturers are making significant strides in improving the fuel efficiency and reducing emissions of outdoor power equipment, but they can (and they will) make it cleaner burning yet. It will not come cheap, but it’s a cost the industry and its customers will have to bear. A lot is at stake. We have just one atmosphere.

Whether you believe that we’re in a period of global warming, or that our use of fossil fuels is responsible for causing it, iwe can’t deny that the amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere is at levels that the earth hasn’t experienced in tens of thousands of years, say credible scientists. These levels continue to rise. It’s measureable; there should be little debate about this, at least.

Encouragingly, the industry is working to address emissions in its power products. Whil,e the emphasis to this point seems to be more on fuel and cost savings rather than the environment, both are being accomplished somewhat simultaneously thanks to the growing use of technologies, such as electronic fuel ignition, propane conversions, clean diesel and lithium batteries. We’re on the verge of seeing a lot more electric-powered equipment in commercial applications.

Can we do more? Of course we can and, considered across the entire landscape industry, we can make a huge difference in reducing the amount emissions we release into the atmosphere.

For example, we can plan our routes to eliminate unnecessary driving, institute no idling rules (service vehicles and equipment), keep our equipment maintained and tuned properly and, finally, keeping the environment in mind when considering equipment purchases.