Eternally Green: Going Electric with a Green Mower and a Blue GEM

July 27, 2017

Over the past few years Mount Auburn has converted four of its eight gasoline powered riding mowers to propane fuel, as part of an effort to improve the efficiency of the mowers and reduce emissions. However, we’ve taken another step towards reducing our carbon footprint by going electric.  Mount Auburn has been purchasing renewable energy credits (RECS) to offset all electricity purchases for several years, but finding quality battery-powered landscaping equipment that could handle Mount Auburn’s terrain and long hours of work has been difficult until now.

After researching three different brands of electric mowers, Paul Walker, superintendent of grounds, found Greenworks Commercial best met the demands of Mount Auburn’s challenging landscape.  (Local big box stores carry a homeowner line of Greenworks products, which use a smaller voltage battery).

Moises Bonilla mowing with a Greenworks electric mower in front of the Egyptian Gatehouse.

While there is a higher initial cost to an electric mower, there’s no need for future gasoline and oil purchases.

Approximate Costs for the Greenworks Commercial Mower:

Mower             $420

Charger           $100

Batteries          $300 – $400 each – there are 3 battery options to choose from depending on the length of charge you prefer.

Mount Auburn purchased an 82-volt, 21-inch mower to use around the Administration Building, Egyptian gatehouse, and near the chapels where funeral services are often held.  These mowers are 50% quieter than the gas-powered ones.  Also, these easy-to-lift mowers are used in lots with granite curbs and iron fences – places where the riding mowers cannot go. Other nice features include a single lever adjustment for grass height and a power boost feature for areas with tall grass.

A self-propelled model is available, but the battery charge is diminished; therefore, Mount Auburn uses the one propelled by a human – seasonal worker Moises Bonilla.  As with any new equipment Mount Auburn trials, the work force must like it or it won’t get used.  We’re happy to report, this machine is well used.

Mount Auburn is trialing handheld landscape equipment from the STIHL company as well, including chainsaws, hedge shears, leaf blowers, and string trimmers.  An important asset for this equipment is the battery, which is interchangeable with all the equipment.

Also, if you’ve visited Mount Auburn since April, you may have noticed a new vehicle – a Polaris GEM (Global Electric Motorcars) electric car. This blue vehicle is parked near the Administration Building for use primarily by the Visitor & Client Services and Institutional Advancement departments.  Although it’s road-worthy on the streets of Cambridge and Watertown, this GEM drives only through the private roads and avenues of Mount Auburn. Traveling by GEM to view Boston from Washington Tower is a smooth, quiet and fun ride; or when on a sales tour, it’s easy to get in and out of this vehicle with or without the doors attached. So, perhaps you’d like to have a sales tour? If so, request to go in the blue GEM to experience the many facets of Mount Auburn in sustainable style.

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