Landscape Services gets charge from new tools

Brandon Watson // Special to Western News

Landscape Services says its new battery-powered equipment is quieter, generates zero emissions during use and incorporates improved ergonomics, including less vibration. The additions fit nicely with the sustainability goals of the university, explained Facilities Management officials.

This summer, Landscape Services takes its first foray into battery-powered equipment. Two grass trimmers, a push mower and two leaf blowers have been added to the team’s tool crib.

The equipment is quieter, generates zero emissions during use and incorporates improved ergonomics, including less vibration, explained Mike Lunau, Manager, Landscape Services. They are a good fit for grounds such as Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, which hosts activities throughout the summer, including conferences, weddings and business events.

“Keeping a low profile at this property goes a long way, allowing us to provide better service for the occupants and guests with minimal interruption,” he said.

The new pieces of landscaping gear use the same battery power packs from one another and can be swapped between the units. The operators have already reported quick charging times; there is no down time between charges.

The tools that require more juice, such as the blowers, also have a large capacity battery backpack. It is estimated that the team should be able to run the battery-powered tools to complete the same tasks as gas-powered counterparts.

“We do not want to rush into a full conversion to battery powered tools until we are sure they can meet our operational needs,” Lunau explained. “However, it does fit nicely with the sustainability goals of the university and our ongoing role as stewards of the natural environment.”

The new equipment appears to check the boxes on a number of the team’s needs. There is some evidence from similar landscape services operations to suggest that battery-powered equipment can take the place of gas-powered units. For example, Harvard has started the conversion of their operation away from gas-powered equivalents. Some Ontario universities are incorporating them into their landscape units, as well.

There appears to be a need to retain some gas-powered tools. Primarily, the battery-powered equipment is not ideal in rainy conditions and would result in a full stop of landscape operations on wet days.

According to Lunau, the timing is right for the university to begin introducing new, higher-tech options. Battery-powered tools are becoming more common place and the market is taking shape. As a result, landscape-equipment manufacturers are providing more options that are more affordable and more reliable than ever.

“We will evaluate the new tools and if they continue to meet our needs, we will look to acquire more battery powered gear in the future.”