AGZA_GFX_Ribbon_Green_Zone_City_SHADOW_1200.jpg

ojai will soon become the nation's second AGZA green zone® city 

we started trying to change the consciousness of the community through education, rather than through law enforcement.
— Ojai Mayor Johnny Johnston

the EVENT

On Thursday, August 2nd the tranquil City of Ojai, CA hosted a ceremony to celebrate the purchase of a new commercial fleet of electric grounds maintenance equipment. The groundbreaking sustainability investment was made possible by a grant from the Clean Air Advisory Fund through the Ventura County Air Pollution Control District (VCAPCD).

Like over a hundred other cities across the country, Ojai has been suffering from a contentious gas leaf-blower debate since they enacted a residential gas leaf-blower ban in 1999. There has been no effective enforcement mechanism nor did there seem to be any reasonable alternative to gas equipment. (Brooms and rakes are ideal for some residential properties, but they are not a practical solution for commercial and municipal crews, or the elderly, or those with larger properties.)

But in just the past five years — thanks to cell phones, laptops, and electric cars — incredible advances in lithium-battery chemistry and technology have dramatically increased the power, performance, and run-times of cordless electric lawn and garden tools. In fact the top-of-the-line equipment are now achieving gas-like performance even in all-day commercial settings — except they are quieter, cleaner, simpler, and much more cost-effective over time.


THE IMPACTS

From now on, all routine maintenance of municipal properties throughout the City will be performed exclusively with the AGZA-recommended low-noise zero-emission equipment. The transition will slash noise levels by 40% - 70% and completely eliminate smog-forming pollution, carcinogenic particulate matter, and greenhouse gasses during operations.

POLLUTANT

CO2  Carbon Dioxide
CO  Carbon Monixide
HC  Hydrocarbons
PM  Particulate Matter
NOx  Oxides of Nitrogen

EFFECT

Greenhouse Gas
Smog
Smog
COPD
Smog

ANNUAL TONS

32.01
10.34
0.70
0.16
0.05

TOTAL 43.26

the health and environmental impacts are substantial and will be enjoyed throughout the entire community, year after year.
in embracing electric operations, the city of ojai has demonstrated inspiring sustainability leadership and vision, and gifted its citizens a permanently quieter and cleaner future.
— Luke Massman-Johnson, CFO and Communications Director, AGZA

THE SPEAKERS

As part of the first major AGZA Green Zone initiative in Ventura County, the event drew inspirational speeches, praise and acknowledgements from political leaders, key allies, stakeholders and sustainability organizations in the region, and state agencies from as far as Sacramento.

    • Johnny Johnston: Mayor of the City of Ojai
    • Monique Limón: Democratic Assemblymember 37th District (Santa Barbara)
    • Mike Villegas: Air Pollution Control Officer, Ventura County APCD and President, California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA)
    • Christopher Dilbeck, PhD: Air Pollution Specialist, California Air Resources Board (CARB)
    • Brian Miller: Chief of Staff to District 3 Ventura County Board of Supervisors Kelly Long
    • Brian Brennan: Administrative Assistant to District 1 Board of Supervisors Member Steve Bennett
    • Mike Stubblefield: Chair VCAPCD Hearing Board and Clean Air Advisory Fund; active member and Past-President of Sierra Club Los Padres Chapter
    • Tod Cossairt: Executive Director, Ojai Valley Green Coalition
    • Greg Grant: Ojai City Engineer and Director of Public Works
    • Randy Haney: Ojai City Council Member, Commissioner for the City of Ojai Parks and Recreation Department, and owner of Haney Landscaping in Ojai
    • Dan Mabe: Founder and CEO of American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA)
    this equipment is commercial grade. the other stuff years ago was electric but it was “homeowner special”, maybe last six months. you have to see it. i saw mowers running and i didn’t hear anything. i was blown away ... just blown away!
    — Randy Haney, Ojai City Council Member and owner of Haney Landscaping in Ojai

    THE CREW

    One of the most important yet often overlooked keys to a successful transition to electric is the attitude and acceptance of the crew. Every property and grounds operation is different and no one knows the unique challenges and efficiencies of their job better than those with boots on the ground and tools in their hands. 

    AGZA knows from a decade of collaboration with commercial and municipal grounds workers that crews need to be included in the transition conversation, their experience and wisdom respected, their ideas engaged, and any resistance listened to.

    Over the past year Ojai's crew has been a case-study in cooperation and receptivity.

    They were candid about their initial hesitation and assumptions and honest about their concerns. They engaged with AGZA in multiple equipment demos and hands-on equipment trials from multiple manufacturers. They reported what tools and strategies worked well and what would need operational adjustment.

    agza would like to acknowledge the individuals who make up the grounds maintenance staff for the city of ojai. thank you for your trust and willingness to walk through this transition with your city and agza. this program will benefit greatly from your cooperation and commitment, and its success will help maintain ojai’s reputation as one of the most beautiful and peaceful communities in the country.
    — Dan Mabe, Founder and CEO, AGZA

    tools, testing, and training

    Ojai's Public Works Crew maintains over 52 acres of Ojai properties in year-round dry conditions, with summer temperatures soaring well over 100˚. Their challenges include regular tree work plus storm cleanup, and an intense and critical 10-week weed-abatement program in the Spring to mitigate fire risk.

    AGZA documented Ojai's entire gas fleet, monitored their gas productivity, confirmed the crews operational needs, and weighed their feedback from the electric tool trials. From this AGZA recommended a tool matrix and battery bank sufficient to update their entire routine maintenance operation with battery electric.

    Once the new tools were procured and on the ground, the crew received AGZA's

    hands-on training, advice on safe and efficient operation, and charging strategies. They also attended AGZA's educational presentation, covering the myriad health and environmental hazards from gas equipment, the many ancillary benefits of electric tools, and the holistic value of adopting a much more sustainable grounds operation.

    full throttle is very powerful. very powerful. and there’s a low setting for when people are walking by you. kicks up minimal dust. very useful.
    — Eric Lara, Ojai Public Works Grounds Maintenance Crew

    the fleet

    For the past eight years there has been literally only one name in commercially-capable electric riding mowers with all-day performance: Mean Green Mowers. The Ohio-based manufacturer has been the only one building large-format professional ZTRs, platform mowers, and walk-behinds. And luckily for all of us, despite there being no competition, Mean Green's products have always been incredibly well built, powerful, and cost-effective.

    The City of Ojai purchased a 60" Mean Green ZTR (CXR-60) and a 33" Mean Green Walk-Behind (WBX-33HD).

    For the handheld tools AGZA had recommended and demonstrated comparable lineups of Greenworks 82V Commercial and Stihl's 36V AP Series. Over a number of years both lines have proven themselves as among the best in E-OPE (electric outdoor power equipment) with professional crews.

    Each manufacturer's line offers different advantages in features and performance over the other, and it came down to personal preference for Ojai. Having used Stihl gas chain saws for many years the Public Works Department and crew ended up committing to Stihl for their new battery lineup as well.

    they’re excellent. the tools are light. they seem very durable so far. and it’s great.
    — Scott Davis, Ojai Public Works Grounds Maintenance Crew

    THE GREEN ZONE

    The equipment roll-out is one of the major phases in the broader AGZA Green Zone® City certification, which will be completed this fall and celebrated in another ceremony. Defining the AGZA Green Zone requires a careful assessment of every property maintained by the City crew. Our proprietary mapping process merges city zoning and plot maps with interactive GIS mapping techniques to reveal the number and size of all properties and features included in the Green Zone.

    ACRES

    16.28
    8.07
    6.12
    4.28
    3.76
    2.68
    2.53
    1.48
    1.46
    0.84
     

    PROPERTY

    Libbey Park
    City Hall
    Sarzotti Park
    Ojai Public Works Yard
    Ojai Rec Dept
    Ojai Ave
    Rotary Community Park
    Daly Ranch Park
    Grand Ave
    Ojai Skate Park
     

    ACRES

    0.80
    0.79
    0.77
    0.57
    0.56
    0.46
    0.46
    0.38
    0.29

    52.56

    PROPERTY

    Lot 1 Weed Abatement
    Cluff Park
    Libbey Bowl
    Culvert 1
    Lot 2 Weed Abatement
    Culvert 2
    Community Demo Garden
    Signal Ave
    Bike Paths

    TOTAL ACRES SERVICED


    APPRECIATIONS

    Many leaders, decision-makers, and allies came into alignment to make Ojai's landcare more sustainable, but AGZA would like to extend a special appreciation to Steve Colomé who had the vision, intelligence, strategy, and commitment to get it started and to enroll AGZA in the first place. Thank you Steve!

    We're also grateful to Stan Cowen, grant manager for the VCAPCD Clean Air Advisory Fund, as well as his colleagues in the Clean Air Fund Advisory Committee and the Air Pollution Control Board, who saw the value and benefits of helping Ojai invest in a low-noise, zero-emission electric fleet and in AGZA Green Zone® City Certification. 

    If sustainable grounds maintenance is going to scale throughout the region and beyond, it is essential that this success story be covered professionally and shared widely. AGZA is grateful for the excellent interviews and reporting by Lance Orozco, News Director of NPR affiliate KCLU. You can read and listen to Lance's thorough coverage of the Ojai Electric Equipment Rollout here, or at the link below.

    Lance Orozco
    WEBSITE:  kclu.org
    BIO:  kclu.org/people/lance-orozco
    STORY:  kclu.org/post/ventura-county-community-one-first-state-permanently-shelve-gas-powered-leaf-blowers

    We'd also like to thank Ojai photographers Steve Adams and Mark Tovar for sharing their outstanding photos of the event with AGZA. A number of their images are included in the slideshows above, each credited accordingly.

    Stephen Adams Photo
    WEBSITE:  steve-adams.us
    EMAIL:  mail@steve-adams.us
    PHONE:  (805) 205-4661 

    Mark Tovar
    WEBSITE:  marktovar.homestead.com
    EMAIL:  matovar249@msn.com
    PHONE:  (805) 279-6118


    CONGRATULATIONS, OJAI!

    AGZA looks forward to monitoring the performance of the new electric equipment over the next couple months, and to compiling a final Health and Environmental Impact Report for the City of Ojai in anticipation of completing the AGZA Green Zone® City Certification this fall.