Collaboration reaps rewards--The ELITE Award for Irrigation Management Email
Tuesday, May 24, 2016 06:30 AM

The ELITE Award for Irrigation Management - Timberline LandscapingThis week, Colorado Green NOW shines a light on The ELITE Award for Irrigation Management, which was awarded to Timberline Landscaping for their work at Oracle America in Colorado Springs. The success of the project is due to a committed group of like-minded people from three organizations: Colorado Springs Utilities, Oracle and Timberline.

Timberline achieved these goals for Oracle through low-water-use renovation projects and irrigation renovations on their property. Oracle, which is continually striving to be more sustainable and to lessen water use, was impressed by Timberline’s sustainable thinking and had been impressed by the company’s work on other area properties. 

Timberline’s relationship with Oracle began in 2009. From the start, water-saving initiatives were part of the project. They had installed a smart controller and made landscape renovations including converting some turf to mulch beds and some bluegrass to native grass.

After multiple wildfires occurring within a few years in the Colorado Springs area, Oracle and Timberline looked for more ways to conserve water. While the irrigation system was industry-standard efficient, steady winds caused water loss that was higher than desired. The company turned to Timberline to develop a conversion that would help them both be a good steward of natural resources in the community and save money on water use.

“A really forward-thinking and conservation-minded team manages this Oracle facility,” says Bernard Knapek, maintenance account manager and project manager at Timberline. “The Oracle and Timberline collaboration was committed to making many efforts to conserve this community’s water resources.”

Collaboration was key
Enter Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) in 2014 with its Commercial Landscape Incentive Program, or CLIP, a pilot program. Knapek met with Oracle to discuss a bold new conversion project that would reduce water use, qualify for the utilities’ rebate program and land a meeting with the CLIP representative of CSU. Specific projects requirements, such as having an approved landscape plan by City of Colorado Springs' Planning and Development department and estimated water savings of at least 25,000 cubic feet annually, were essential for acceptance into this program and to qualify for the rebate incentives. Payment to the customer based on water savings.

“We worked in-house to come up with a design concept to submit to the City planning department for approval,” says Knapek. He followed up with CSU representatives to discuss the pilot program and expectations for compliance. “After some discussion about concerns with City planning, Oracle management completed the CLIP agreement with CSU and we received approval for the project.” However, before starting the project, CSU performed a site Irrigation audit to be sure there were no other site concerns and recommendations for repairs.

They converted overhead irrigation to point source drip irrigation and created a new planting scheme that included low-water-use native and non-native plants as well as native grass areas. The entire conversion was implemented over a four-month period.

Excellent results
Maintenance needs have also shifted, and total maintenance time is reduced, due in part to the use of perennials and ornamental grasses.

Colorado Springs Utilities determines the expected water savings for projects in the program. For the Oracle project, they projected savings of 205,700 gallons per season. Oracle’s usage in 2014, reported by CSU, was 3,080,239 gallons and for 2015, CSU reported water usage as 2,189,020 gallons. At face value, the reduction of 819,219 gallons appears to be almost four times greater than the expected number set by Colorado Springs Utilities.

The dollar savings estimated by Knapek for 819,219 gallons of reduced water use, based on Colorado Springs Utilities’ commercial summer rates from May to October 2015, translates to about $6,500.

Compared to Incentive Program agreement expected water savings has exceeded expectations. Nevertheless, Knapek was reminded by a CSU representative “we have to account for yearly weather adjustments such as supplemental precipitation and lower ET (evapotranspiration) numbers, which could result in lower usage whether we are managing properly or not.” That said, CSU’s rep did say they are excited about seeing larger volumes of water saved with them in the incentive programs than they expected.

For details on this project, look for the full story in the July/August issue of Colorado Green.

This is the fourth story in a series about The ELITE Awards. Look for more stories in the next Colorado Green NOW. For more information about The ELITE Awards or to read about other recipients, click here.

Read more in this issue:
Educate your customers about the new rain barrel law
OSHA final rule regarding silica dust exposure
Understanding the DOL overtime rule
Legislative update for Colorado landscape industry

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