‘Green’ gas station to pump a paradox

Bp_green_station
Los Angeles Times
By Elizabeth Douglass

The nation’s first certifiably green gasoline station
sports a futuristic metal canopy covered in shiny triangles of
uncoated, recyclable stainless steel.

The rooftop holds 90 solar panels and a collection system that gathers rainfall to irrigate drought-tolerant plants nearby.

The underside is outfitted with low-energy lighting.

Cars will roll across concrete mixed with bits of recycled glass.

At a time when oil companies are feeling the heat from lawmakers and
motorists worried about global warming and high fuel prices, British
oil giant BP has developed what it calls “a little better gas station”
– albeit one that will sell the same hydrocarbon-based fuels blamed for
worsening air pollution and climate change.

Dubbed Helios House by BP, the eco-friendly station replaces a
slightly run-down Thrifty station that served customers from Los
Angeles and nearby Beverly Hills. The new gas station was built with
cutting-edge Earth-friendly design, using such materials as farmed wood
and less-polluting paint, and its customers will be pushed to save
energy.

“The whole site is really a lab,” said Ann Hand, senior vice
president for global marketing and innovation at BP, once known as
British Petroleum.

“Everything we have on this site is about reuse,” she said. “My hope
is that people will see that they can do little things … to move up
to a greener lifestyle.”

Members of the station’s “green team” will check the tire pressure
on customers’ cars and advise that properly inflated tires boost gas
mileage. They will give out energy-saving tips, printed on recycled
paper embedded with flower seeds that sprout when the card is planted
in the ground.

While its customers pump gas, BP will show eco-vignettes and green
videos on screens built into the fuel dispensers. The company is
considering adding biodiesel and alternative fuels to the site, as well
as selling carbon offsets to customers who want to make up for their
fuel use, Hand said.

BP will encourage operators of its Arco and Thrifty branded stations
to adopt some of the green practices showcased at Helios House, Hand
said.

BP declined to disclose how much it cost to build Helios House,
although Hand said the price was in line with conventional construction.

“We will not be charging consumers more than what’s normal for this market,” she said.

Hand acknowledged that critics were likely to dismiss Helios House
as an effort to generate positive publicity for BP, whose reputation
has been battered in recent years by a deadly refinery accident, air
pollution settlements, pipeline problems and more.

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