How To Achieve Eco-Friendly Pavement Sweeping

Sweeping pavement on roads, commercial parking areas, and construction sites is meant to do more than maintain a tidy appearance. Keeping pavement clean removes many tons of debris, particles, and other contaminants from these areas that would otherwise end up in storm drains. Sweeping helps protect stormwater, and ultimately the world’s waterways, from these environmental pollutants. What can your pavement sweeping company do to help the environment even more and become an eco-friendly business?

How to Be an Eco-Friendly Pavement Sweeping Company

It may seem like you’re too busy and that there’s too little you can do to make a meaningful difference for the environment through your sweeping business. It may seem much further out of reach to make yours an eco-friendly operation. But, there’s actually a lot you can do that can, altogether, significantly reduce your costs and make your business much more eco-friendly at the same time. For example: 

Control Airborne Dust. 

Taking measures to keep the air as clean as possible is an obvious priority on construction worksites. Workers on the site and occupants of nearby residences and/or businesses are exposed to the thick clouds of dust incessantly being generated by vehicles and heavy equipment moving around on a bare dirt lot during construction work. Naturally, using water to reduce the amount of airborne dust caused by sweeping the space can eliminate much of the dangerous air pollution caused by such dense particulates in these areas. 

So, as necessary when servicing construction sites, use water in your sweeping process to help stop unhealthy amounts of dust from being kicked up into the atmosphere. This is an environmental regulatory requirement in many areas of the country. 

Minimize Water Load Weight.

Applying water to control dust during pavement sweeping is essential to manage dirt at many construction sites and the residual track-out beyond the exits from such sites. Potentially, even in some municipal street-sweeping in regions with a lot of wind-blown dust may require water to manage it during sweeping operations. But, carrying nearly a ton or more of water causes its own environmental problems. The additional fuel used for hauling heavy loads of water means additional carbon emissions. 

  • Consider using a dust control product in your sweeper’s water tank to enable you to get good dust control results while carrying less water. 
  • Dump your volume of wastewater as near as possible to the sweeping site, instead of hauling the weight back to the vicinity of your sweeper storage location, to minimize the number of miles you must haul the water load.

Convince Customers to Sweep More, Not Less.

Pavement sweeping is, by its nature, an environmentally friendly activity. So, when it comes to this important sweeping, the environmentally unhealthiest approach to the task is not doing it enough. However, customers facing budget issues often cut sweeping frequency as one of their first expense-saving measures. For example, during slow business phases, or difficult economic conditions, such as during the Covid shutdown. 

So, be good at explaining the environmental health and safety benefits of maintaining proper sweeping frequency. For instance, follow the great example set by Mark Chamberlain of Eco Sweeping in Colorado Springs, CO. He launched a campaign to persuade managers in the region that they needed more sweeping during the pandemic, not less. 

When many customers wanted to cut back on the frequency, Mark showed them a few pictures of used surgical masks, rubber gloves, and disinfectant wipes littering parking lots and successfully made the case with many for increasing sweeping instead of reducing it during that time. He went much further, sending out email blasts, calling his peer sweeping businesses in his association, and running an alert on the company’s website about the need for increased sweeping. 

Prevent Fluid Leaks.

Drivers should be trained to keep sweeper trucks showing any sign of any kind of fluid leakage away from drains and sloped grades. It is especially important for sweeping companies operating near waterways to consider having a fluid spill cleanup kit on every truck. Moving the truck to a grass-covered area is recommended while working to stop the leak. 

Taking measures to prevent hydraulic fluid, engine oil, transmission fluid, radiator coolant, or other fluid leaks is also essential for optimally eco-friendly pavement sweeping. Inspect sweeper trucks for friction points and excessive movement of hoses and cables in the relevant mechanical areas. Consider ways to minimize friction and flailing conduits by using tape, wire, or zip ties to stabilize the at-risk hoses and cables. Sweeper trucks should be inspected frequently for fluid leaks.

Hydraulic fluids should be replaced with a biodegradable version that breaks down within just a couple of days. It costs double the price of regular hydraulic fluid, but it’s an investment in your right to refer to your company as one taking measures to be an eco-friendly operator.

Conserve Fuel to Preserve the Environment.

Fuel conservation and environmental protection are intertwined in the pavement sweeping industry. When you act to accomplish one, you automatically advance the other in your business. To help reduce fuel waste, use these tips from our most recent NAS Fuel Update article (February 2023 issue): 

  • Redesign routes for improved efficiency in fuel use.
  • Schedule distance travel on the most congested roadways during off hours.
  • Train drivers to use overdrive consistently during highway driving.
  • Train drivers not to leave auxiliary engines running during travel between sites.
  • Train drivers to turn off their engines during breaks, while waiting in line, dumping wastewater, etc., instead of letting it idle.
  • Use the appropriate sweeper type for the job type and size, e.g., don’t use an air sweeper truck for a task that a mechanical sweeper can handle as efficiently.
  • Restrict highway driving to 65 mph maximum.
  • Run rear engines at around 1,100 RPMs, if practical, vs. 1,800 during sweeping. 
  • Train drivers to manage their speed while sweeping without keeping the brakes engaged.
  • Remotely monitor to help drivers develop habits like excessive accelerating and others that waste fuel.
  • Encourage drivers to help find more ways to minimize excess fuel expenses. 

Maintain Equipment for Eco-Friendly Operation.

Maintaining sweeper trucks brings more benefits than longer equipment life and reduced repair costs. It also reduces fuel waste, which increases the environmental soundness of your operations. 

  • Keep tire pressure at the manufacturer’s specification to minimize friction, which helps reduce fuel waste.
  • Keep sweeper truck parts clean, lubricated, appropriately adjusted, and in good repair. For example, check and replace the broom drives as needed.
  • Change fuel filters and air filters as needed for optimum flow and engine function.
  • Maintain and replace fuel injectors as needed to avoid significant fuel over-consumption.
  • Change spark plugs periodically to improve fuel use performance by as much as 30%.
  • Keep radiators clean to regulate engine temperatures appropriately, which burns fuel more efficiently.

Consider a Zero Emissions Pavement Sweeper Trucks.

The first 100% electric commercial pavement sweeper is already on the market. The EV is advertised to be as heavy-duty as standard liquid fuel-powered sweeper trucks. The high-performance sweeper truck is reportedly high-performance and durable enough to last under the roughest conditions in the most extreme urban environments. It is said to deliver all of these benefits while generating no carbon emissions. 

Every Sweeping Business Can Be Eco-Conscious

Whether your pavement sweeping business is in a position to implement all or just some of the above eco-friendly operating methods now, you can increase your company’s eco-consciousness. By diligently acting to apply as many of the methods as possible on the above list of necessities for more ideally eco-conscious sweeping operations, you can make your business as eco-friendly as possible and proudly represent your organization as such to your customers and prospects.

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