Shilan goes on to explain that the walkways and driveway borders were made of recycled brick from another project. The driveway was constructed from leftover pavers from several projects, creating a special blend. A large boulder, removed during construction, was engraved and set at a public garden installation.
“Again, I think it was more about being cost-conscious than being overly aware of the environment,” Shilan emphasizes. “Either way this project demonstrates that by being more creative, almost any contractor can participate in the sustainable movement without going over the top.”
Technology is helping, too, Shilan adds. “I recall seeing a piece of equipment at our trade show that can crush concrete and brick on site so contractors can reuse the material immediately for base material when installing a new patio or driveway.”
At a Minimum
As these landscape contractors point out, one doesn’t need a Ph.D. in environmental science to design sustainability into projects, and ultimately the onus is on customers to determine their shade of green. That doesn’t relieve landscape designers and contractors from their responsibility as stewards of the environment and of their industry.
“As stewards of the environment, we are charged with the responsibility to understand the basics and offer them as options for customers,” says Heller. “We have to be knowledgeable about invasive species, be aware of the benefits large shade trees provide, and understand the role soil plays in the evolution of ecosystems.
“As a member of the Green Industry, we also have the responsibility to protect our livelihood,” Heller adds. “We have to be in a position to defend ourselves from those who claim that we do more damage than good when we design, install and maintain landscapes. We know better, and our job is to convey that message to our customers and the general public. Understanding SITES and how we can incorporate its guidelines into our processes is a big step in that direction.”