Business

Pitt Meadows businesses go green and make green

Terry Becker of Becker and Company displays an electronic document that is helping the Pitt Meadows law firm go paperless.  - Colleen Flanagan/The News
Terry Becker of Becker and Company displays an electronic document that is helping the Pitt Meadows law firm go paperless.
— image credit: Colleen Flanagan/The News

Want to save water? The planet? Money?

Whatever the motivation, the Pitt Meadows-based office of Smart Watering Systems helps conserve the resource through a variety of high-tech tactics.

Its efforts at maximizing the efficiency of sprinkling systems in residential and commercial buildings recently earned it one of Pitt Meadows’ Going Green Business Awards.

The award, one of seven given out at a recent Pitt Meadows council meeting, was for the most innovative green solution.

Outdoor sprinkling systems can use up to 40 per cent of property’s water consumption, notes Keesha Rosario, Smart Watering’s managing director for western Canada.

“We look at where the efficiencies can be made, whether it’s in best management practices, maintenance and then we get into products.”

Weather stations that hourly record local conditions such as sunshine, humidity, wind and temperature, then compute the exact amount of water that has to come out of a sprinkler system.

Rosario recently moved out her Pitt Meadows home office and is renting a new office in Maple Ridge, while the company has another office is in Ontario.

“Because we’re growing,” said Rosario.

She was speaking from Kenora, Ont. while on a cross-Canada tour of major cities as the company starts catering to municipalities and shows them how to improve water use in residential areas.

“Right now, we actually monitor irrigations systems for Guildford Town Centre. We do Oakridge mall in Vancouver,” and several other properties in the Lower Mainland.

Tweaking a sprinkling system and using wireless technologies and specialized sprinkling or irrigation equipment can make the effort worth it. Reductions in water use of between 30 and 70 per cent can result.

She pointed out sometimes sprinkling or irrigation systems can be even be more efficient and use less water than someone who hand-waters treasured flower beds.

Smart Watering Systems has consulted for Abbotsford, which implemented a tiered water rate system last year, But that has since been cancelled.

“When you only have so much water and your growing at a fast rate, it’s pretty important that you conserving your drinking water because the water costs money to treat to get to those households and those properties. It’s really important that we’re efficient with it.”

The company has done two pilot programs, one for the District of North Vancouver and another for Metro Vancouver. The company even saved Metro Vancouver $1,400 a year by improving the small, irrigated landscape for the Metro Vancouver office building on Kingsway Avenue in Burnaby.

Smart Watering Systems also consults for developers and for clients who manage business parks and shopping centres in the Lower Mainland and Whistler, and is now moving to Vancouver Island.

The company’s also nominated for a green award by the City of Toronto and was nominated for a local chamber business excellence award recently.

The company can also show how to harvest rainwater, to reduce the demand for treated water.

“There are quite a few countries around the world that would be shocked to see how we use our water.”

Pitt Meadows council handed out several other going green awards at March meeting.

Becker & Company Law offices won the award for most awareness through education.

Office manager Terry Becker points out there are now six employees who walk to the offices every day, including a newly hired lawyer who lives in central Pitt Meadows.

John Becker also rides his bicycle to work, on sunny days, and the office has completed an energy retro-fit.

The key part of their award, though, has been the move from paper to computerized record keeping, no mean feat for a law office that consumes paper by the bushel load.

When faxes arrive, they go into the computer rather than get printed out.

For the past four years, the clients’ legal documents now are all computerized according to Law Society of B.C. standards.

That spares paying for the physical storage of the documents for the required 10 years, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Computerized records not only saves money and consumption of paper (a reduction to 44 boxes of paper used in 2011 from 76 used in 2010) it makes the office more efficient.

Clients can have their documents e-mailed easily where ever they want instead of calling a courier.

The board room is also fitted with a large TV screen, allowing employees to participate webinars rather than attend seminars in Vancouver.

Green awards

• Most Integrated Green Solutions (Under 10 Employees): Meadows Cleaners.

Most Awareness Through Education (Under 10 Employees): Koha Montessori.

Most Integrated Green Solutions (Over 10 Employees): Egis Projects Canada.

• Honourable Mentions: Cafe Zenberry, Affreight Traffic  Systems.

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