Archive for the ‘water’ tag
Here’s our weekly digest of interesting and useful links from around the web. Enjoy, and have a great weekend!
- Retail spending is slow, but people are still spending.
- 50 years of LED tech. (via @Carolyn LaWell)
- Related: Reflecting pool at the Lincoln Memorial drained due to algae invasion.
- Science makes it true: To be more productive, watch cat videos on the internet.
- London wants its own High Line, but underground.
- Above: Water rates are going up. They won’t stop. (via CLCA)
Colorado, like many western states, has strict regulations on the use and management of water. But the Silver State has long topped lists of the strictest. As the green movement grew, cities, homeowners and landscapers rushed to embrace stormwater detention systems like cisterns and rain barrels. Colorado banned them.
Water, in Colorado, belongs to everyone, and it’s no one’s right to stop God-given raindrops from entering “the stream.” Property owners get what falls on their property, but aren’t allowed to keep any of it for themselves to use later.
But that hard-line stance is softening a bit. In 2009, the state government allowed a few pilot developments to experiment with rainwater collection systems to see if they could limit the total water use on a property.
In the October issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine, Arthur Allen takes a look at one of these first projects, and what it could mean for a new Colorado landscape.
The first of these projects is scheduled to take place at Sterling Ranch, a 3,400-acre development south of Denver that when completed will include 12,050 residential units. It has been described as one of the most ecologically friendly developments in the West, and water conservation is a primary element. The project, which occupies the last major swath of undeveloped land between Denver and Castle Rock, Colo., has required a lot of paperwork and rigorous preparation, but groundbreaking is expected in 2014.
Planning for Sterling Rance focused from the beginning on minimizing water demand, with smaller individual yards and larger shared open spaces and parks that emphasize landscape solutions such as native plant use and artificial soccer and baseball fields. The project also incorporates conservation inside the houses, with auditing for excessive water use, which would bring financial penalties. The planners expect to average 0.286 acre-feet of water consumption per household. This would be a dramatic reduction compared to the traditional usage in the area. Before the project began, the surrounding county, Douglas County, had a cap of 0.75 acre-feet, which, in response to research conducted partly for Sterling Ranch, it has subsequently lowered to 0.4 acre-feet.
The biggest water savings are expected to come from using rainwater collection as a primary source for the community’s outdoor water needs. The developers expect to be able to meet about half of these outdoor requirements with God’s very own rainwater. Cisterns above- and below-ground will collect rainwater from houses and neighborhoods.
The story, which you can read here, is a fascinating look at the inner-workings of water savings on a large scale, and should give us some very practical data on how stormwater and detention systems can impact the residential landscape. These types of systems and regulations aren’t just impacting the West, and will only get worse in the future. No matter what part of landscaping you’re operating in, the water question is one everyone will have to think about in the coming years.
- What’s college for if not pranking the administration with bat guano?
- “Biomechanical trebuchets.” (via: New York Botanical Garden’s Tumblr)
- 4 leading botanical gardens to create first online catalog of all plants. (via @BatesNursery)
- Why efficiency won’t solve our water problems. (via @waterguru2)
- How to: reboot a terrible voicemail. (via @jasoncupp)
- Above: Environmental Business Award winner Mark Halla explains why and how he built a wind turbine at his Minnesota headquarters.
Regardless of your service mix, water has an impact on your business. And, in a world of weirder weather, increasingly tight supplies and even tighter regulations, water is one of the most important resources for anyone in the green industry.
So, to help our readers stay on top of the issue, we’ve brought on the very talented Richard Restuccia, Martha Golea and Alan Harris – all contributors to the must-read ValleyCrest Takes On. Based in San Diego, Phoenix and Atlanta, respectively, our three latest contributors will address the most important and pressing issues pertaining to water for the average landscape contractor.
I’m excited to work with these three writers, and proud to bring them to the L&L readers. Stay tuned for your October issue (hitting newsstands soon!) for Richard’s inaugural piece on the future of water, and what landscape contractors need to do now to make sure they’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to increasing regulations. In November, Alan will discuss the seven reasons people hate irrigation systems.
But, if you can’t wait for the mail, you have a few chances to see us in real life.
This week, the team is on the road at the WaterSmart Innovations Conference in Las Vegas, where they’re discussing best practices on social media. If you can’t make it out west, we’ll all be at the IA Show in Orlando in early November and you can catch us there.
One of the best parts of my jobs is that I get to travel around and hang out with people who are a lot smarter than I am.
To that end, I spent a few days last week in Chicago with the team at BASF for its biannual Agriculture Media Summit. Every two years, the company brings together a bunch of reporters who cover on potatoes, corn, soybeans and the like, and puts them in a room with its top researchers and executives to showcase the latest projects and other cool stuff they’re working on.
This year, the theme was sustainability, and how farmers all around the world are going to need to feed about nine billion mouths by 2050 using pretty much the same amount of land they have now (and likely a lot less water).
While it has little to do with growing grass or trees, the research does shine a light onto some pretty cool stuff that the company is up to. Here’s a quick round-up of the top three highlights.
AgBalance sustainability measurement too
BASF has developed a tool to help bring some tangible numbers to the question of how sustainable a business or operation is.
It’s AgBalance system, which was developed 15 years ago in the automotive coatings business, examines a couple hundred data points (like soil quality, nutrient balance, biodiversity, rates of worker pay, commodity prices, etc.) to measure sustainability.
The same model has been applied in more than 400 other industries including, in late 2011, agriculture, where it calculated a 40 percent increase in the sustainability of Iowa corn production during a 10 year period.
Jan Buberl, head of the company’s specialty products department, says the T&O market can expect a similar tool in about two years.
Canola oil case study
Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. BASF sees an opportunity in helping canola farmers produce these heart-healthy oils, which can then be used to fortify other foods.
The only problem is that canola oil doesn’t contain those chemicals. So the BASF R&D team was able to identify and move genes that do produce these oils into canola seed. In the fall of last year, BASF partnered with Cargill to bring these genetically modified seeds to market by 2020.
Investment in new business
Much of what chemical companies bring to market is, well, chemistry. Through the discovery of new active ingredients, formulations and other technologies, they try to stay ahead of new diseases, pests and other environmental factors.
But that takes money and people. Worldwide, 10,000 BASF employees work in R&D, and the company spends 23 of its annual research budget on new businesses and new segments it’s not already active in.
Last year, BASF posted global revenue of €73.5 billion. By 2020, the company plans to bring in €115 billion, and says a quarter of that will come from products and services that are less than 10 years old.
Here’s our digest of fun, interesting and important links from the week. Dig in and enjoy!
- SoCal water fight heats up.
- Plans underway to create world’s largest online plant database.
- Many small businesses are avoiding loans. (via @genemarks)
- Top green building trends for 2012. (via @ValleyCrest)
- An oldie but a goodie: Email checklist.
- Above: Mark Ciccarelli from the Neave Group and his famous bourbon bacon chicken wings. (via @chris_heiler)
Tomorrow has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to free education. Here are three webinars on offer for you covering a wide range of topics.
Lucky for you, the start times are staggered so you (or your staff) can listen in to all three.
1. The new Facebook
The latest upgrade to the most popular social network automatically goes into effect on March 30 is a big deal for businesses. This webinar, hosted by Lawn & Landscape magazine and presented by social media consultant Chris Heiler, will cover all of the upcoming Facebook page design changes and functionality upgrades. We’ll discuss what is most relevant and important to your green industry business so you’re ready next week.
When: Friday, noon Eastern
2. Creating Water-wise Community Wins
Taking a proactive, sustainable approach to water stewardship and conservation, Seven Hills HOA Board Members have created a water-wise green oasis for 3,000 homes in Henderson, Nevada. Partnering with ValleyCrest Landscape Maintenance to upgrade irrigation systems across the desert community’s common areas and streetscapes with efficient sprinkler heads and internet-enabled WeatherTRAK smart irrigation controllers, Seven Hills has saved more than 45 million gallons of water since June 2010.
- Dr. Joel Davidson, Board Member, Seven Hills HOA, Henderson, Nevada
- Richard Restuccia, Director, Water Management Solutions, ValleyCrest
- Chris Manchuck, Vice President, HydroPoint
When: Friday, 11 a.m. Pacific/2 p.m. Eastern
3. Boxwood Blight Update
Boxwood Blight (Cylindrocladium pseudonaviculatum) is a new plant disease to the United States, having first been confirmed in the October, 2011. The disease can cause significant defoliation and branch dieback to infected plants. Most of what we know about the disease is from research done in Europe where the disease was first discovered in the early 1990s. However, recent work in the U.S. has shed additional light on disease diagnosis, its reproductive potential and host range. Learn what the scientific community currently knows about this problematic disease and the research priorities they have identified.
When: Friday, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Eastern
Here’s our weekly digest of fun links from around the web. Hope you like them!
- An edible urban forest is planned for Seattle.
- You can help shape the next version of LEED. (via @waterguru2)
- Nearly half of Americans now own smartphones. More than 60% of people with household income of more than $75,000 do.
- On sick days and dedication. (via @martygrunder)
- A new app to track your water footprint.
- Woman smoking meth burns down Florida’s oldest tree.
- Above: A record player that makes music from trees.
Here’s our weekly collection of cool stuff we found online. Enjoy!
- U.S. cities lose 4 million trees a year
- Write better Twitter headlines.
- Toilet-to-tap turn you off? It’s good enough for astronauts
- New rules for H-2B.
- These Mark Awards are pretty bad-ass.
- Where is the River Volga? What Tomas Edison asked potential hires in his interview process.
- Above: The making of snow circle art by Sonja Hinrichsen at Rabbit Ear Pass, Steamboat Springs, Colo. (via The Dirt)
Here’s our weekly collection of cool stuff. This one’s got Fibonacci in it!