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4 Sustainable Strategies For Commercial Landscapes

Sustainable strategies for commercial landscapes play a significant role in gaining a competitive advantage today by attracting tenants and saving money. Many tenants notice which buildings are green and seek out properties that have adopted sustainable practices and look attractive.

A smart landscape partner can recommend sustainable approaches that offer cost savings without sacrificing aesthetics, which is critical for owners looking to enhance an office building environment or achieve a green certification. Often, greening a building’s landscaping means adding water management programs, installing smart controllers, incorporating recycled water, building bio-swales or designing landscapes appropriate to the climate of the property. Here are tips to consider when implementing sustainable solutions that add value and drive ROI at commercial properties.

1. Focus On Water Management

Adopting sustainable strategies for commercial landscapes improves water management and complies with mandated water use restrictions that are in place in many areas. Water management, conservation and reuse are being factored into new and existing landscapes; just as sustainable landscape practices are becoming standard in virtually every property type. Today, smart landscape plans are more strategic and typically incorporate advanced technologies, such as “smart controllers ,” Internet-enabled , central control systems that eliminate irrigation water waste and achieve significant cost savings by adjusting watering times based on weather conditions.

Landscape plans frequently feature improved irrigation systems and grids of inline drip irrigation rather than spray heads in small landscape areas. Often , water fountains are being converted to planters, decorative turf is being removed and only turf on which people sit or play remains. Bio-swales or on-site storm water quality treatment systems are increasing in use to manage storm

water runoff. Bio-swales work to decrease the quantity of impervious surface on the site, remove pollutants from runoff and increase infiltration of storm water directly back into the ground. The benefit of this approach is a reduction in the volume of flow off the site, thus reducing loads on municipal storm water systems.

2. Use Recycled Water

Recycled water can provide a reliable source of irrigation water, thus ensuring that the investment in an irrigated landscape is protected during times when potable irrigation water is restricted. Landscape irrigation systems will need to accommodate recycled water, which is available in many cities. Property owners may also collect water for landscape use from parking lots , perimeter roads or roofs by incorporating rain harvesting systems, barrels, cisterns or retention ponds.

The plant palette may need to be adjusted to work with recycled or reclaimed water because recycled water typically contains heavy metals and salts that can negatively affect some plants.

3. Establish A Water Program

The proper selection and placement of plants and trees on a site play a significant role in achieving sustainability goals and fiscal objectives, while still creating the desired “curb appeal.” Correctly watering a mix of large plants, trees and small specimen plants as a landscape matures over time requires constant  adjustments by an experienced landscape maintenance team. An incorrect water balance can inhibit the establishment process or waste precious water. To ensure proper amounts of water for each plant, landscape experts might recommend the practice of hydrozoning, which simply means grouping plants with similar water requirements on the same irrigation valve.

4. Plant Flowers That Bloom Year Round

Most properties require landscapes that feature flowering plants and pleasant green spaces. Typically, flower beds are replanted four or five times a year with seasonal color. A more sustainable and cost-effective approach is to convert seasonal flower beds to flowering perennials that do not need to be changed out as frequently. Flowering shrubs with different colored foliage can be pruned to different heights. The combination of structure and color can be quite dramatic and reduces the use of flowers.

If done properly, visitors to the property still discover an attractive outdoor space, but owners can achieve significant savings because changing out flowers can be expensive and demanding.

Studies and experience show that, by adopting sustainability measures, properties rise above the competition. In fact CB Richard Ellis noted that building owners strive to adopt sustainability measures because it helps reduce long-term costs, achieves higher rental and occupancy rates and improves the health and productivity of those who work at the building. This is also supported by the U.S Green Building Council. In short, going green has been found to be good for the owner and is important to those who occupy the space!

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