By Stephanie Graham Special to Published Nov 09, 2016 at 12:00 PM

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Most of the time, we talk about, well, it’s pretty obvious: furniture! But today, we want to talk about something a little different, something that drives our business – literally – and helps us serve our customers more efficiently: green energy!

Steinhafels and green energy may not sound like an obvious marriage, but as more and more companies "go green," it truly is becoming part of the business conversation.

Steinhafels has been committed to sustainability and environmental sensitivity for years. We have put several best practices into place to be sure we are operating as cleanly and efficiently as possible.  

For example, we use the latest in HVAC technology. Overall, our total energy costs are down 20 percent, thanks to initiatives like energy-saving LEDs and off-peak energy conservation. Our distribution center in Waukesha recycles cardboard, plastic, wooden skids, paper, mattresses and florescent light bulbs. Steinhafels also recycles furniture and donates usable parts to charitable organizations.

However, today we want to focus on our new Green Machines. These are four service trucks that run on CNG (compressed natural gas). Unlike traditional fossil fuels, CNG releases near zero emissions.  

Steinhafels service manager Kevin Polaski has been at the forefront of the project. He explains, "We have been thinking about the concept of our fleet going green for some time now at Steinhafels; however, we needed to do more research. Our networking partners in Florida were converting their entire fleet, and we found it was something we wanted to explore. In 2014, we purchased our first Ford Transit with CNG and have been pleased ever since."

The hope is to eventually convert our entire fleet of service vans and delivery trucks to CNG, as we phase in new vehicles in the future. But like any major conversion project, it’s good to start small. Polaski explains, "We decided to phase it into our service fleet first to get more traction on the product before we made a major commitment to the entire fleet."

We partnered with a local company, Barnes Green Energy, to convert our service vans to CNG. Barnes is based in Madison and has made a commitment to helping local businesses and organizations convert their fleets to CNG.

We recently attended an event at Barnes which highlighted the company’s new CNG time-fill station. It also served as a showcase for a variety of CNG-converted vehicles – including a Dane County Sheriff’s Department truck and one of our Steinhafels service vans!

At the podium, Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney admitted CNG conversions aren’t always the easy thing to do, but he explained, "We’re doing this not because it’s cheap, but because it’s the right thing to do. It will pay dividends for mine and all of our children and grandchildren."

Mark Barnes is president/owner of Barnes Inc. He says he’s happy his company connected with Steinhafels. "It’s tremendous to have a partner who understands the long term benefits of clean fuel use – not only the cost savings, but the benefits to the environment. Steinhafels is thinking outside the box, and that’s going to benefit the company in the long-run and its customers."

Polaski agrees that "greenifying" the fleet makes good business sense. "Using CNG makes us more sustainable while leaving a positive impact on America’s air quality, energy independence, security and environment. Steinhafels continues to look for ways to make a difference. We strongly support going green!"

Here at Steinhafels, we know we’re not alone in the quest to save energy and reduce our carbon footprint. We hope that other businesses explore options like CNG, and we are always willing to talk with about best practices and ways we can all work together to preserve our environment for future generations.