Keeping the Green - A Guide to Cost-Effective Irrigation
By Scott B. Brickman CEO, Brickman | October 28, 2008
Many hotel executives are aware that wasting water costs money. But with increasing demands on many municipal water supplies, frequent and increasingly severe droughts and a broadening concern for the environment, it has become more important than ever to control the flow of this precious limited resource. Irrigation expertise and advances in irrigation technology, however, provide a ready, proven solution to a major source of water waste.
Building a relationship with a trusted landscaper can help hotel executives understand their hotel property's irrigation needs, protect their landscape investment and improve their bottom line. Although savings depend on prior water usage, studies show that proper irrigation techniques often save property owners 20%-40% annually on water bills (irrigation.org). A landscaper can provide guidance in understanding which type of landscape would be most appropriate, and most efficient, for a specific property based on a range of factors such as climate, appropriate plant species, property size and location.
Hotel executives should consider the entire irrigation system and develop an ongoing process for its evaluation and upkeep-from installation, to maintenance, to troubleshooting to any necessary on-site repairs. Existing systems should be thoroughly reviewed before a new system is installed or a renovation is initiated. A water audit will reveal how existing irrigation water is being utilized and determine the best irrigation system to implement. The audit will identify common problems such as water spraying onto sidewalks, old and faulty nozzle heads and inefficient nozzle head placement and size. Even wind drift, caused by a poorly installed nozzle or poor head placement, can cause significant water loss.
Once an audit is completed and the appropriate irrigation system is set into place, seasonal inspections on a regular basis will ensure that the site's system is running efficiently. In addition to maintaining a properly running system, these inspections will help determine how the watering schedule should be adjusted in relation to the changing landscape.
The landscape which is being watered can be just as important as the irrigation system itself. Deciding which plants to incorporate into the landscape is an important factor. When nature does not provide enough rain, there is sometimes a tendency to over water the landscape to compensate, which can lead to plant diseases and wasted water.
However, by choosing climate appropriate plant materials and considering sun exposure, natural rainfall, soil-type and other factors, water waste can be greatly minimized. Evapotranspiration, the measurement of total water needed to grow a plant, will help in determining which plants will work best for any given hotel property.