Water Conservation by Design


April recently presented a talk to the City of Dublin on “Systemic Solutions for Big Water Savings!” With or without the drought, water is a precious resource around the world. The presentation addressed case study projects that converted existing high water use landscapes to less water and maintenance intensive landscapes.  It reviewed the project process, costs for implementation, and the resulting water savings. In all cases the savings reached a 75% or higher return on investment for not only water conservation, but also for waste management, and carbon sequestration  just by changing the design engineering focus from conservation to regeneration.

043009-peets-7_cropPEETS Coffee & Tea Roasting Facility, Alameda, CA

This project followed Bay Friendly Principles and is located in Harbor Bay on the bay coastline in Alameda. The landscape began with native plants, habitat, soil, and water conservation discussions to Client and team and developed the Client’s history of outreach on their sustainable principles.  The roasting process produced coffee chafe waste which was used as landscape mulch – this was one story that was harnessed by PEETS that resonated with their sustainability goals. This project inspired the Harbor Bay Medians project which followed.

harbor-bay-medianHarbor Bay Medians, Harbor Bay Parkway, Alameda, CA

 At Harbor Bay development there are 20’ wide medians with 40’ parkway landscape zones in the right of way  – all turf lawn and trees. The median project redeveloped the 1 ½ miles of medians (110., 696 sq ft. or 2.4 acres) into a thriving sustainable water conserving landscape. Our office took this project on as a challenge in the beginning of the recession in 2008 to eliminate the lawn in the medians and replace with a of drought tolerant landscape as a pilot test project for the Harbor Bay Association to initiate transforming the development into a more sustainable campus.  At the time  a few artificial turf vendors had also started to propose to the developer how artificial turf could save them water. We proposed to redo the medians through a sheet mulching process (leaving the lawn in place to create new soil food web with soil organisms) which not only saved water – 2.9 million gallons per year, but also water costs (70%), reduced 135 metric tons of CO2E green house gases, eliminated chemical fertilizers from being added into the  Alameda watershed, reduced green waste by 22 tons per year and created wildlife habitat and beauty – many more benefits than just water conservation alone. This project was Bay Friendly rated and received 93 points.

vf-courtyard-berm-cropVF Outdoor Campus, Alameda, CA

VF Outdoor is a 15 acre waterfront office campus that integrates the company’s global environmental goals with  its sustainable landscape design. Landscape strategies  include stormwater infiltration gardens from roof and site flow, climate responsive and bio-diverse plant palette suited to coastal setting and water conservation, protection of the Alameda watershed, reduction in waste, ipm, and organic soil vitality throughout the campus setting. An innovation point was for the “salad farm” or edible garden that also connects people with their food via the cafeteria and the employee green team program. The project also includes a solar farm and wind harvesting. The project is LEED Gold and Bay Friendly – 125 rating  11 acres for phase 1. The water savings is 954,418 gallons per year, with 16 tons of green watse debris reduced per year and 100 metric tons of CO2E reduced per year.

For a pdf of the case study presentation please click the link below:

Water Conservation Case Studies PDF