Hoopaugh Grading is finding out that it’s not so hard being green.
The Charlotte-based contractor is nearly 80 percent complete with its first job on which the machines are fueled with biodiesel. The fleet consumed approximately 50,000 to 60,000 gal. of biodiesel as of the end of November.
Co-owners Larry Hoopaugh and Brian McManus said that Hoopaugh is one of the first contractors in the region to make the switch, at least according to Hoopaugh’s supplier, Culp Petroleum of Rock Hill, S.C.
The project — Cox Mill High School — has been designed with some “green” components and, as the first contractor on-site, Hoopaugh wanted to get the environmentally friendly ball rolling.
While not a LEED-certified structure, architect Todd Berg, vice president of Morris-Berg Architects in Charlotte, said his firm made an effort to include as many environmentally friendly aspects as possible within the budget.
The school will have a rainwater harvesting system that will collect the rain from the roof and run it into above ground storage tanks. That water will be used for the school’s horticulture program. Berg said this system can be used as a teaching tool to allow students to monitor the amount of water being saved.
The public lobby space will be lit with daylight and should not require electric lighting during the day at any time of year, he said.
Additionally, all of the school’s carpeting will be recycled or recyclable and the lobby’s floor will be polished concrete, eliminating the need for additional finishing material.
The higher cost of the fuel — approximately five to eight cents more per gallon — was not figured into the contract, so Hoopaugh is footing the bill.
Hoopaugh’s crew is performing the preliminary site grading for the building, parking lots and athletic fields on the 70-acre (28.3 ha) property and has 25 machines on-site for the job. Approximately 350,000 cu. yd. (267,594 cu m) of dirt will be moved during the $1.1 million project, scheduled for completion by mid-January.
In addition to becoming more appealing to owners who limit the environmental impact of their projects, Hoopaugh said he wants to do his small part in reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil.
“The price of our fuel jumped a dollar in the past year,” Hoopaugh said.
He hopes more contractors will follow his lead to help reduce the cost of biodiesel. And he expects to stick with the new fuel source in future projects that require a sizable fleet. The supplier sells biodiesel in 8,000-gal. tanks, as opposed to 2,000-gal. tanks for diesel.
Berg said his firm is learning a lot about the usage of biodiesel from Hoopaugh Grading.
“It may come to the point where we specify it as a requirement in future projects,” he said. CEG
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