Growlies for Pets in the Utopia Building on Jacklin Road makes use of energy efficient appliances

GREEN BUSINESS COLUMN: Utopia emerges as enviro-friendly building

Green business cluster emerges on Jacklin Road in Langford

A new green business block has emerged on Jacklin Road between Goldstream Avenue and Kelly Road in Langford.

If you drive by, you might not think anything special of the three businesses situated in the Utopia building. The previous owners (developers) of Utopia at 2871 Jacklin Rd. had struggled to find buyers interested in the commercial spaces at street level, and the building’s commercial storefronts sat empty for close to two years.

However, local entrepreneur Kristy Martin saw potential in the high-traffic location and decided to take the risk and buy her own commercial space for her company Farley Martin Notaries.

Martin made the purchase so she could make investments into the space that will ensure the business is sustainable in the years to come.

A year and a half later, two other West Shore entrepreneurs decided to follow suit and also purchased commercial space in the building.

Today, you’ll find Farley Martin Notaries, Prosperity Planning and Growlies for Pets all occupying the commercial spaces in Utopia, giving new life to the building and area. What’s unique about these three is that they all purchased their commercial spaces and they all decided to go green, not only in their construction but in their day-to-day operations.

All three businesses have been certified by the Vancouver Island Green Businesses Certification Program.

Martin experienced first-hand how beneficial simple changes can be for both their environmental impact and their impact on the financial bottom line.

“As a small business you really have to think outside of the box to reduce costs,” she said. “The challenge is that there’s so much information out there it’s hard to know where to begin. I started by choosing not to print every document faxed to us, which saves about $1,000 worth of supplies every year.”

At Growlies for Pets, Neal Cropper and his wife Jo-Anne invested heavily in new energy efficient fridges, LED lighting and a state of the art H-Vac system.   These major capital expenses will have a relatively quick pay-back time and also add value to their property.

These investments into their business, along with other operational changes, will ensure that Growlies is operating in an efficient manner in the years to come.  Growlies for Pets requires a large amount of power to keep its fridges and freezers cold, so investing in efficient fridges and proper insulation will save thousands, once their return on investment is recouped in a few years’ time.

Dale Collins, founder of Prosperity Planning, is the latest business owner to open in Utopia and become green certified.  For Collins, the construction of her new space got her thinking about going green.  Prosperity Planning might seem like any other financial planning office, but when you take a closer look around you’ll notice a number of actions she’s taken to improve her office’s sustainability performance.

Collins’ new furniture comes from recycled materials; her lighting senses when someone enters or leaves meeting rooms; her water heaters operate on demand and her company is leading the charge in an effort to go paperless in the years to come. All of these actions will save Prosperity Planning thousands on energy costs, office materials and maintenance costs moving forward.

All three businesses will have considerably lower operating costs in the years to come, thanks to the investments they have made to make their operations more sustainable. For many, it’s difficult to invest up front to reap returns down the road. However, for those that have the foresight to make their businesses more environmentally sustainable, there are financial rewards that will follow in the future. If you want to learn how to green your office or business visit vigbc.ca

Craig Sorochan is the program manager of the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification Program.