Monday, April 18, 2011

Will this be the greenest building on the greenest site in the U.S.?

The $7.8 million, 24,350-sq.-ft. Phipps Conservatory's Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, PA, will be "one of the greenest buildings in the world," says Richards V. Piacentini, executive director. It should be complete sometime next year.

It will sit on 2.65 acres of property behind the conservatory and serve as the conservatory's education, research and administration building. It’s the first project in the world being built to simultaneously meet three sustainable building standards: LEED Platinum, the Living Building Challenge and SITES.

Sustainable Landscape

— Sustainable landscape features all non-invasive, native plants. Click here to view the proposed plant list.
— Plants will use rainwater as irrigation - no additional irrigation will be installed
— A walking trail and boardwalk lead through a variety of landscape communities including wetland, rain garden, water's edge, shade garden, lowland hardwood slope, successional slope, oak woodland and upland groves
— Restores natural landscape function, provides wildlife habitat, and offers educational opportunity

Green Roof

— Reduces volume of storm water runoff and pollutants in storm water runoff
— Insulates building to reduce HVAC cooling in summer and heating in winter
— Extensive green roof design with a 6-in. soil depth and a variety of plants, including edibles and ornamentals
— Reduces heat island effect
— Demonstration gardens for residential applications, especially urban landscapes
— Beautifully landscaped space for an event

Rainwater Harvesting

— Storm water from upper campus glass roofs and lower site will be captured and
stored in two 1,700-gal. underground cisterns
— Rainwater will be used for toilet flushing, as well as interior irrigation and maintenance as required
— Ultralow flow plumbing fixtures include waterless urinals and dual-flush toilets for water conservation
— Greatly reduces impact on municipal sewage treatment and energy-intensive potable water systems

Lagoon System

— Captures stormwater runoff from portions of the site, the CSL roof, the maintenance building roof, and overflow from the underground cisterns
— Replicates natural water treatment process that occurs in wetlands and marshes
— Water flows through a 7-step process where plants and their symbiotic root microbes absorb organic and mineral nutrients
— Water is processed to tertiary non-potable standards, which is comparable to water exiting sewage treatment plant post-treatment conservation
— Post-treatment water that overflows the lagoon will be permeated naturally into the landscape through a series of infiltration system.

Constructed Wetland

— Treat all sanitary water from CSL and adjacent maintenance building
— Subsurface flow constructed wetland system
– 2-stage wetland treatment cell system
— Sand filtration provides additional treatment of the wetland effluent
— Ultraviolet process disinfects water to gray water standards
— Greatly reduces impact on municipal sewage treatment and energy-intensive potable water systems

Permeable Paving

— Permeable asphalt, unit pavers and stone paving
— Maximizes permeability of all paved surfaces throughout site
— Allows natural infiltration of site storm water

Friday, April 15, 2011

Safety first

We don't have to tell you how dangerous a profession landscaping is. Every few months (and that's conservative) we read about a contractor who rolled his mower over into a lake and drowns. Or there's carelessness with equipment that results in the loss of a limb or some other injury. Maybe it's a driving accident while guys are heading from one job to the next. Injuries on the job mean loss of productivity, workers compensation concerns, moral issues just to name a few.

The website, The Daily Beast has put together a list of the top 20 most dangerous professions. Firefighter and police officer are there right where you'd expect them to be. And sitting at No. 17 is landscaper (see the full list here).

According to the article there were 4,700 injuries and 15.6 fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers. The statistics are based on 2009 data.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Clever, very clever — The Lawn Institute calls upon its "Turfgrass Team" to tell its story

A tip of the hat and hearty “well done” to the staff at The Lawn Institute for a very creative series of video vignettes to highlight the many benefits of natural turfgrass to the public.

Thanks to Jim Novak of Turfgrass Producers International for sharing the following information and images with us so we can pass it on to you.

The Lawn Institute has developed a cast of characters identified as The Turfgrass Team that will be featured in a series of short videos addressing everything from the environmental, economic and health benefits of natural grass, to misconceptions and/or misinformation about natural grass and lawns.

The Turfgrass Team will also take on other issues; for example, the pilot episodes, address the benefits of natural grass over artificial turf as it relates to field restrictions and surface temperatures. The plan is to post fture videos on You Tube and various websites to create maximum exposure.

In announcing the posting of the videos, Kirk Hunter, executive director of The Lawn Institute stated, “There’s a great deal of misinformation out there when it comes to natural turfgrass and home lawns. The environmental benefits of natural grass are numerous and our challenge is to convey information that underscores what those benefits are and how they benefit everyone. By creating The Turfgrass Team we have a vehicle, along with some appealing characters, who can address the subject in an entertaining, informative and memorable way, and more importantly, reach a broad audience of young and old alike.

"Future videos are still in the planning stages but it’s likely they will address how natural turfgrass cools the air, produces oxygen, filters air, reduces pollution, suppresses dust, recharges and filters groundwater, reduces runoff, controls erosion, stores carbon, restores soil quality, etc.

In addition to the environmental benefits, future videos might provide helpful information on best management practices as it relates to proper lawn care such as water conservation, lawn mower care, proper use of fertilizer, core aeration, etc.

You can view the pilot episodes by entering The Turfgrass Team on the You Tube site , or use the following links to go directly to the videos.

The Turfgrass Team - Talks About “A Few Restrictions”.

The Turfgrass Team - Tackles the Heat Issue. — Ron Hall

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The branding lesson of a breakfast sandwich

Given the choice, would you willingly spend 100% or more for one product over another essentially identical product, all other things being equal —quality, service and ease of purchase?

A no-brainer, you might think.

Think again.

What I’m about to share with you — as obvious as it might seem once I reveal it — has important implications for your success as a Green Industry service provider, my guess is far greater than many of you realize, especially those of you that, because of the excellence of your services, have earned great loyalty or positive word-of-mouth from your clients but still struggle to gain traction in your markets.

A muffin with egg, cheese and sausage

Strangely, I’ve come to this conclusion after studying the simple and popular fast food breakfast sandwich of egg, cheese, and sausage patty on a toasted muffin.

Let me start at the beginning for some perspective.

For the last several years I’ve been working from a small messy office overlooking my wife’s flower garden. Working in a home office has its good points and its bad points, but mostly good points. I no longer own and maintain an extra car, and am free of the hassles and expense of the daily commute. Best of all, shedding the drive has added extra time to my life. I spend one of these hours almost every weekday morning walking a mile to the local Number Two national burger chain outlet where I enjoy a cup of coffee, read the newspaper and share a minute of friendly banter with its staff. As I walk home I relax and plan my workday.

Better and less expensive

My early morning stroll takes me by a franchise location of the Number One fast food chain. But I continue to Number Two across the street because it’s cleaner (especially the rest room), quieter and less expensive. In fact, I can buy a coffee for 1/3rd less there and essentially the identical egg, cheese, and sausage and egg muffin sandwich for $1 there compared to the $2.38 for basically the same sandwich at Number One.

Gven the better customer experience and lower cost for food, why do people crowd into the dining room, endure longer waits and pay the extra cost of the simple breakfast sandwich at the rival’s drive-thru window? Wouldn’t cost be the biggest buying factor, especially for comparable products, such as coffee and a simple breakfast sandwich?

What I see almost every day is that cost doesn't have to be (and often isn't) the biggest factor in customers’ buying decisions.

The power branded marketing

If not cost, then what?

People buy products and services for many reasons, but developing a brand, then keeping that brand top of mind with advertising and marketing is incredibly powerful in influencing customers to buy one product or service over another — even identical products or services. Once consumers become, in effect, bounded to a brand cost becomes less important in buying decisions. Why else do so many more people buy the $2.38 sandwich instead of the $1 breakfast sandwich?

The message seems clear. Even when the economy is tough (and probably especially so), consumers will pay more for branded products and services. I don't see any reason why this would be any different for landscape products and services than it is for breakfast sandwiches. — Ron Hall

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

PLANET Day of Service — get crackin', it's almost here

Thinking about participating in PLANET Day of Service April 22 but haven't made up your mind yet?

My late father, bless his heart, had a saying when he saw me dithering over whether I should do something or not. "Poop or get off the pot," he would say. Fathers tend to say those kinds of things, right?

OK, so get crackin'. Pull the trigger if you've been debating whether to select a project, mobilize your team and be counted among the Day of Service volunteers. You s
till have time to get Day of Service shirts for your workers. The deadline is April 13. Popular projects include grounds of schools, parks, playgrounds, senior centers, shelters, etc.

“The concept behind the PLANET Day of Service is to bring volunteers together to fill needs in each community by creating and caring for green spaces,” says PLANET President David Snodgrass, Landscape Industry Certified Manager. “Our members know how important it is for people to have parks
to enjoy and gardens where children can learn about the environment.”

In the past two years of the event, PLANET members completed more than 480 projects in 43 states and in Canada, with nearly 5,000 volunteers donating more than $1,000,000 in time, material, and services.

There’s a lot of great information on the PLANET Day of Service website. Start there.

The Lead Sponsors for this year’s event are Agrium Advanced Technologies, American Profit Recovery, JOHN DEERE, PBI/Gordon Corporation, and Shindaiwa.

Other sponsors include Corona — Season after Season, Duke’s Landscape Management, Inc.; Ewing; HighGrove Partners; Hoedown Gardening & Lan
dscaping, Inc.; Kichler Lighting; Lebanon Turf; Nufarm Turf & Ornamental; Project Evergreen; Puryear Farms; Sebert Landscaping; Snapper Pro; STIHL Inc.; Terracare Associates; The Greenwood Group, LLC and Turf Appeal Inc.

Here are some images taken of the Mirrorscapes LLC team in Ohio by the Landscape Management magazine staff during its 2010 Day of Service project. — Ron Hall

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Spring Green guy writes SMART check

CHILLICOTHE, IL — Remember that jaw-tightening screech that chalk made when your 8th-grade English teacher diagrammed a sentence on the blackboard.

Stop! Pleeeseeee Stop!

Well, that screech may become history thanks to technology like the SMART Board. What’s a SMART Board you might be wondering (as we did)? Replace that vision of the blackboard at the head of the classroom with a huge, white I-Pad-like, interactive instructional tool. In truth, that description hardly does it full justice.

OK, why are we writing about SMART Boards in a landscape blog? It’s because Spring Green Lawn Care franchise owner Dave Vojta donated $3,500 to outfit a classroom at Illinois Valley Central (IVC) High School with a SMART Board. The IVC District is raising money to put one in each of its 110 classrooms.

“This level of instructional technology will set IVC apart as a technological leader throughout Illinois and the country,” said IVC Superintendent Dr. Nick Polyak in the Chillichothe Times Bulletin that shows a smiling Dave Vojta in a classic grip-and-grin

Vojta was the first businessperson to step forward and write a check for the “IVC Parents for Smart Students SMART Board Campaign. Cool. Very cool.