Richmond businesses vying to be greenest

Richmond businesses are catching the green bug thats been sweeping the province in recent years.

Indeed, if there was a title to be had for the greenest, Auto West Groups BMW location would in with a shout.

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Auto West which has now invested $1.5 million in green initiatives in its premises has just wrapped a new project boasting the Lower Mainlands first wind turbine installed for commercial use.

The sky-grazing wind turbine, at 60 feet tall, is intended to reduce Auto Wests carbon footprint by generating electricity that is dumped directly into BC Hydros grid.

Meters have been installed to calculate the amount of energy being produced, with numbers to be assessed in six months.

Someone has to be the leader and we just stepped up to take the leading role, said Pete Sargeant, project development manager for Auto West Group.

The groups been incorporating green initiatives into their BMW site for years.

Before the recent addition, it featured geothermal heating and cooling, green roofs, underground tanks to collect storm water, a water recycling system and solar panels.

Today, the facilitys eight rooftop gardens contain over 3,500 plants ranging from apple trees and blueberry bushes to lavender.

A colony of about 40,000 honeybees also help keep the gardens thriving, which complement the geothermal system by improving cooling, capturing storm water and producing oxygen.

And the nine solar panels are expected to reduce 2300-kilowatt hours of energy.

An upcoming phase of the project aims to make space available for employees to grow vegetable gardens and to transform the generic recycling building into one that recycles car parts.

We want to be innovative and lead private businesses to do the right things by investing into geothermal and wind turbine systems and reducing the impact we have on the environment, said Sargeant.

And we want to show that we do care and that were good citizens of Richmond.

Meanwhile, a local building company has taken on the challenge of constructing whats billed as the citys first geothermal home, built on speculation that a buyer will be found.

The building company, Balandra Development Inc., has begun the process of drilling down 200 feet at the waterfront site they coined Dunlin Shore.

Geothermal systems are a major investment but Exchangenergy, the geo team on the job, says its one that will pay for itself in a decade or so.

Spec builders generally dont want to risk such a large investment in a home without a buyer, said Clive Alladin, president of Balandra.

But we know this is the way of the future being more sustainable and smart and it felt right so weve decided to risk it.

Construction of the home is scheduled to wrap up around Christmas.

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