Part of the Solution

June 28, 2023

Written by Mark E. Lett
Photos by Rob Kaufman

A father-and-son team in Bluffton is pursuing a high-minded environmental vision for the Lowcountry.

Sylvain Riendeau and his son, Jean-Luc, are the owners, operators and visionaries behind a concept and a company dedicated to raising eco- awareness and lowering the pollution and noise generated by vast numbers of gas-powered yard equipment.

It’s a business and a passion for these two men.

Their message: “Become better stewards of the environment and planet” by encouraging the use of battery-powered landscaping equipment.

Their target audience: Commercial lawn services tending the sprawling yards and green spaces of the Lowcountry’s many plantations, residential developments and recreational areas.

“You can be part of the problem or part of the solution,” said Sylvain, a mechanical engineer and Canadian transplant, who founded the EEZero company on Red Cedar Street last year.

Sylvain, left, and Jean-Luc Riendeau

Jean-Luc, trained in equipment instrumentation, adds: “By embracing these eco-friendly alternatives, we can significantly reduce carbon emissions and promote cleaner, greener practices … Battery landscaping equipment offers a quieter and emission-free alternative.”

The Riendeaus are on the front lines of a growing movement to limit air emissions from garden equipment. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that one hour of operating a new gasoline lawn mower emits the same amount of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide as driving a new car 45 miles.

The EPA estimates that garden equipment engines produce up to 5 percent of the nation’s air pollution, including pollutants such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.

The EPA contends more than 17 million gallons of gasoline are spilled annually as garden equipment is refueled.

“People lie, but numbers don’t lie,” said Sylvain, whose career in life-science businesses includes years specializing in sub-zero commercial and industrial refrigeration engineering and services.

He said his commitment to a cleaner environment was deepened by watching a public television documentary during a commercial airlines flight to visit family members in Montreal.

The program warned of a planet threatened by global warming and pollution. Sylvain said he took to heart the suggestion that each person has a duty to help assure a sustainable environment.

“I have concerns,” he said. “We have the knowledge and the science to make a difference. I asked myself how could I help.”

The father-son team said environmental education is at the heart of their business. In April, for example, they shared information with members of Lowcountry Environmental Action at Sun City as part of annual Earth Day events – showing their line of eco-friendly equipment and answering questions.

The Riendeaus encourage and assist homeowner associations — POA/HOA — in developing sustainability initiatives for the Lowcountry developments.

“We need to do everything we can to protect our environment for our children and grandchildren,” encouraged an EEZero company message. “Together, we can position the Lowcountry as a leader in sustainability.”

California and cities across America have banned gas-powered leaf blowers and mowers in campaigns to trim air pollution. Pro Tool Review last year reported that Honda would stop manufacturing gas lawn mowers this year and would sell out remaining stock until it is gone.

Honda said the move was “driven by market forces such as stricter environmental regulations and shifting customer preferences.”

Sylvain said his EEZero and businesses like it offer “zero emission solutions” and clean-energy equipment.

Such equipment also helps reduce noise pollution, EEZero said on its website, noting that gas-powered lawn mowers are fitted with mufflers that “create very little gas flow restriction, which is great for power but bad for noise.

Mowers and blowers crank at about 95 decibels, well above the 85 decibels that can damage hearing with extended and repeated exposure, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control.

Electric lawn mowers and lawn equipment are more forgiving, running at about 75 decibels, which is unlikely to damage hearing.