Making Every Drop Count

Making Every Drop Count

A combination of water-conserving landscaping and smart irrigation techniques can stretch even the tightest water budget.
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Green Builder Media

Photo: lathamarchitectural.com

Thursday, March 19, 2015 - 7:00am

CAMPAIGN: Ethical and Sustainable Living

CONTENT: Article

Our country’s daily residential water use tops out at around nine billion gallons. As much as half of that water is lost to poorly designed irrigation systems and wasteful watering techniques. Fortunately,  great examples in both the residential and commercial sectors demonstrate how to tighten irrigation budgets without sacrificing beauty.

For example, when Caterpillar decided to seek a LEED Gold rating for their East Peoria, Illinois facility, they hired Pizzo & Associates, a Leland, Illinois-based firm specializing in ecological restoration to transform 20 acres of lawn interspersed with thirsty flowers into prairie and beds of native plants.

The water savings have been significant. Once the new plantings were established, Caterpillar was able to turn off its irrigation system completely. This external renovation, along with water conservation measures inside the building, reduced their overall water use by nearly 50 percent.

This kind of wise water use has a strong ripple effect on communities. When homes and businesses avoid excess irrigation, they help prevent the urban runoff that pollutes nearby streams and beaches. And since 40 to 70 percent of a city’s potable water gets poured into landscaping, the dollar savings from water conservation at various sites benefits the community as a whole.

“When people practice conservation, cities might not have to build another reservoir or a seawater desalinization plant or import water, all of which is very expensive,” says David Sedlak, a University of California at Berkeley water expert and author of Water 4.0: The Past, Present and Future of the World’s Most Vital Resource. “We’ve done a good job on indoor water efficiency. Now, the real opportunities for conservation are outdoors.”

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CATEGORY: Environment