Every client has their reason to go green. For some, like Graybar, a distributor of technical networking products, it was a need to make its St. Louis corporate headquarters as cutting edge as its products. For others, such as Woodfield, a 12-acre business complex outside Chicago, it was in an effort to attract tenants. While for Colorado's Omni Park Metro District, it was a cost- and labor-saving move.
Yet, for all these clients, the benefits gained by strategically increasing sustainability throughout their landscape operations far exceeded their expectations.
For Graybar, a leading distributor of electrical, communications and data networking products, being ahead of the curve is part of the company's culture. But when they reached out to us a few years ago, the grounds of their corporate headquarters were not up with the times. They needed an update, one that was environmentally sustainable and attractive.
Once we came on board, our first step as Graybar's landscape planning and maintenance partner was a Landscape Sustainability Audit to assess the soil-plant-water balance. Based on the results, we replaced the mature groundcover with native, drought-tolerant plant material. Next, we cut the turf area down by a half acre and seeded it with native wildflowers. Our experts also replaced the water management system and improved the water quality of the existing pond, effectively creating a potential future source of water for the grounds.
Graybar's grounds are now sustainable with a naturally balanced aquatic system and a fully updated irrigation system that provides efficient, water-wise coverage. Water consumption has been reduced by 80% and the landscape is thriving. Recently, the company made further moves to "green" their headquarters with LED lights in the parking structure and other energy-saving moves. It may have started with the landscaping, but whatever the progression, Graybar's headquarters are now as cutting edge as their products.
Located on 12 acres with sweeping views of the Chicago skyline, Woodfield Corporate Center, has been serving tenants since 2007. Business was good but General Manager Edie Scurto knew it could be better.
In 2009 she contacted us to help her make Woodfield's grounds more appealing and also more environmentally sustainable—no small feat given that the property has several microclimates, rooftop gardens, a pond and walking trails.
Working closely with Edie, we developed a plan of action to implement more sustainable practices property-wide, including the use of mulching mowers, compost and organic fertilizers. Invasive species were removed and waste was diverted to a composting center. To reduce water use, our irrigation expert did an irrigation audit and improvements were made to the existing system one section at a time. The watering schedule was modified for less waste, flowerbeds were made smaller and xeriscaping and native plants were added to keep the aesthetic level high and water consumption low.
Our team also manages the pond, which feeds into a nearby forest preserve, with runoff in mind using a predominately organic turf program. The pond water is treated to reduce algae and other invasive weeds while ensuring the health of fish and other pond life. Turf mowing is done in a specified pattern to reduce the amount of organic matter that would get into the water and thus require additional treatments.
A green roof of sedum, planted and maintained by our team, reduces the heat radiating from Woodfield's underground parking structure. The addition of living walls on the structure helps reduce heat transfer and regulates the temperature on the concrete, extending the life of the structure and keeping the interior courtyard cooler for tenants to enjoy.
Through collaboration and innovative thinking, our team and Woodfield's property management company have created an award-winning sustainable landscape with great curb appeal.
Woodfield has won seven awards in the last five years, including the 2014 Gold Award for Excellence in Sustainable Landscape Maintenance from the Illinois Landscape Contractors Association and another award for Best Maintained Landscape from the Village of Schaumburg where Woodfield, along with many other Class A office buildings, is located.
General Manager Edie Scurto is pleased. She noted, "The landscaping is key to setting the impression for what lies behind the doors. As a result of the new landscape and the awards, brokers are taking notice which definitely improves our occupancy rates."
Colorado's Omni Park Metro District needed help. They were trying to keep up a landscape that was requiring large amounts of water and labor hours to maintain. The property in question included two 14 ft.-wide medians planted primarily with Kentucky Blue Grass and an inefficient spray-head irrigation system. The medians offered little aesthetic value and were sucking up resources and time. The district asked if we could help turn things around.
Our experts needed to find a way to develop a design for the medians that would resonate with the surrounding streetscape and office buildings throughout the district. The solution lay in replacing the water-hungry median turf with a low water-use landscape consisting of native plants and water-wise trees, shrubs and perennials. We also removed all the pop-up spray heads and converted the irrigation to a sub-surface drip system.
The landscape at Omni Park is now more water-efficient, easier to maintain and much more sustainable. The new drip system has eliminated water drift and makes the most of every drop, delivering water directly to the plants.
The changes made an immediate difference with 250,000 gallons of water saved within the first two months. Based on monthly meter readings, the annual savings in the first year was approximately 765,000 gallons. Add to that the savings in labor hours thanks to low-maintenance, drought-tolerant landscaping and these crucial landscaping changes made a huge impact in getting Omni Park Metro District back on the road with eye-catching landscaping and better resource conservation.
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