Carrollton, Texas-resident Rick Hauser was a typical, hard-working IT professional, director of a software support group for 23 years, until he was let go in December 2008.

Between December and April, 2009, Hauser interviewed for other IT jobs. But he also began looking at opportunities to perhaps start his own business. At the time, he had several things in mind, such as a franchise for selling and renting video games.

He then went to a franchise broker and career coach for would-be small business owners. He was given an aptitude test to help him figure out what type of business might fit for him. Once the woman interviewed Hauser, found what types of things he liked to do and the types of people he liked to work with, she came back and said, “I think you need to do something outdoors.”

That was surprising, especially after 23 years of working indoors. While reading Entrepreneur magazine, he found out about Clean Air Lawn Care. They were in the top five green franchises, and were widely known for renewable energy from the sun and wind. He thought, “This is going to catch on.” Aside from recycling small things at home, Hauser never considered himself an “environmentalist.” However, he saw an opportunity to earn some “green stuff,” but knew it was a way to help the environment as well.

In April, Hauser visited Clean Air Lawn Care’s home office in Fort Collins, Colorado. In early June, 2009, he started ordering the equipment and got set up.

Hauser is now owner of one of Clean Air Lawn Care’s 27 territories.

Clean Air Lawn Care uses electric and biodiesel-powered equipment for lawn mowing and landscape maintenance that run on renewable energy.

Their equipment is charged during the day and in the field by solar panels mounted on trucks. It is also charged overnight and in the shops with wind power. Clean Air Lawn Care services residential and commercial lawns, offering mowing and disposal of the grass goes to an organic waste recycling center.

Hauser is convinced that he has found a way to mow, trim, edge and make yard work cleaner for himself and for others. “More than 800,000,000 gallons of gas is used every year in lawn mowers,” said Hauser. “When people fill up their gas mowers, blowers and trimmers all across the country, they spill more gas every year than what was spilled in the Exxon Valdez wreck. Gas-powered blowers also pollute one square mile of peace and quiet.

“Our electrical equipment is 50 to 70 percent quieter than gaspowered lawn equipment, which is great for napping children and neighbors,” said Annie Carey, marketing director for Clean Air Lawn Care. “We also use organic fertilizer for landscaping, which is safe for children and pets.”

Featured on Clean Air Lawn Care’s website is a calculator that estimates the environmental impact between gas and electric lawn mowers. All a user needs to do is type in his/her state, the square footage of the lawn, and a comparison chart will immediately display each machine’s annual pounds of air pollution.

According to Hauser, 5 to 10 percent of air pollution in the environment today comes from gas-powered lawn equipment such as mowers, trimmers and blowers.

“Pretty hard to believe, but when you consider that 54 million lawns are mowed in America every week and a lawn mower running for one hour emits the same amount of carbon-forming emissions as 40 cars do in that same hour, it’s believable,” Hauser said.

But Hauser isn’t the only one who has recently started an ecofriendly lawn care business. Bill Schramm, owner of Clean Cuts, Traverse City, Michigan, uses hand-powered reel lawn mowers. The landscape contractor’s aim is to service his clients without creating the pollution that a typical gas lawn mower gives off.

Schramm caters to in-town homeowners and businesses with small yards, and composts all of the grass clippings he collects. Schramm’s client roster also includes doctors’ offices, who enjoy the fact that he can work without being heard.

“I can provide a service that people need without creating the pollution that a typical gas lawn mower gives off,” said Schramm.