Green Tips: Water Efficient Landscaping

To those of you who don’t already know, RSC is headquartered in sunny California. Right now, California is in a very serious drought, so this particular green tip hits close to home. Today we’d like to share with you a little more about how to help your business grow a little greener and take a step towards it’s LEED certification with Water Efficient Landscaping.

Requirements

This one is actually quite simple. The intent is “to limit or eliminate the use of potable water or other natural surface or subsurface water resources on or near the project site for landscape irrigation,” – aka reduce the amount of water you’re using on landscaping. Reduce landscape irrigation by different percentages will gain you varying points toward your certification

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In order to effectively do so, LEED has outlined three options for calculating water reduction:

  1. “Calculate the baseline irrigation water use by determining the water use that would result from using an irrigation system typical for the region using the mid-summer baseline case or the month with the highest irrigation demand and compare this with the building’s actual irrigation potable water use, which can be determined through submetering. Use the baseline and actual water use values to calculate the percentage reduction in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource use. More detail about completing this calculation is available in the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations & Maintenance, 2009 Edition.”
  2. “Calculate the estimated irrigation water use using the mid-summer baseline case or the month with the highest irrigation demand by determining the landscape area for the project and sorting this area into the major vegetation types. Determine the reference evapotranspiration rate (ET0 ) for the region and determine the species factor (ks ), density factor (kd) and microclimate factor (kmc ) for each vegetation type. Use this information to calculate the landscape coefficient (KL ) and irrigation water use for the design case. Calculate the baseline case irrigation water use by setting the above factors to average values representative of conventional equipment and design practices. Use the estimated and baseline case to determine the percentage reduction in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource use. Factor values and other resources for completing these calculations are available in the LEED Reference Guide for Green Building Operations & Maintenance, 2009 Edition.”
  3. “If independent irrigation performance and ranking tools are available from local, regional, provincial, state, territorial or national sources, use such tools to demonstrate reductions in potable water or other natural surface or subsurface resource for irrigation purposes.”

Ideas

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Some ideas for water efficient landscaping include:

Reducing the amount of grass on your premises
  • Often times turf grass is the biggest “water hog.” It is often over watered and irrigation is set to timers that run at inefficient times or unnecessarily (e.g., how many of you have been to a park when the sprinklers have gone off right after it rained). Instead of turf grass, try artificial grass.
Stone, Pavers, & Tambark
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  • Strategically use stones or pavers to create a unique look around any plants, trees, or bushes you might have to give depth and character to your landscaping. Stones, pavers, and tambark also help release ground heat all while keeping the ground cool reducing your need to water.
Plant drought tolerant vegetation
  • Succulents are known for their ability to thrive in desert like conditions. They are a great optionif you’re still looking to maintain plants. Succulents come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and colors.
Watering at night
  • Make the most of your watering! Rather than watering during the heat of the day, wait till it’s cooler and darker out to reduce the potential for water evaporation.
Have any tips? We’d love to hear how you help save water!
*All quotes are from the LEED website*

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