When Richard Larkin decided to start up a yard care company, going green seemed to be a natural fit.
After learning the yard care industry is responsible for five per cent of Canada’s air pollution, Larkin decided to start up Clean Air Yard Care in Saanich five years ago. The rapid success enjoyed by the solar-powered landscaping company prompted Larkin to add a second truck and crew specifically to handle the Oak Bay/Gordon Head area.
All the equipment used by Clean Air Yard Care – from the mowers to the trimmers, from leaf blowers to chainsaws – runs on lithium batteries that can be charged using the solar panels on the roof of the company’s custom-built trailers. Even the truck that pulls the trailer is a hybrid electric vehicle.
“We can plug in all the batteries and while we driving or parked anywhere, this stuff is charging all the time,” said Larkin, adding the lithium batteries will run for an hour on just a half-hour charging time. “And we’ve got spares on the go so we never run out of power.”
While reducing the impact to the environment was the primary reason Larkin started the business, he quickly discovered an added benefit when he noticed how quiet everything was.
“The lithium-battery powered equipment runs significantly quieter, sometimes by as much as half of the gas counterpart.”
And that benefit was noticed not only by customers but also his workers, who no longer have to wear earmuffs or don a mask when filling up the equipment with gas.
Larkin said the business is enjoying continued growth. “Once people switch to the clean-air concept, they don’t go back. They don’t want to go back to the noise and the smell.”
That success has Larkin planning to eventually take his business model to other markets on the Island as well as the Lower Mainland.
“We’re still tightening up all the business systems and making sure we’ve got everything running smoothly. The goal is to upset the landscape industry, kind of turn it on its ear and show that we can do just as good a job without all the pollution and the noise.”
Larkin believes the green model is the way of the future for the landscaping industry.
“I think it’s just a matter of time, I think five or 10 years from now a landscaping company using gas and oil will be the old school.”