Aquascape urges landscapers, retailers to consider sustainable strategies

Aquascape urges landscapers, retailers to consider sustainable strategies

Runoff control, rainwater harvesting offer eco-friendly opportunities for the green industry.

January 14, 2010
Sarah Martinez
Business Management Supplier News

Water features can be much more than just ornamental. With the right components, they can become part of an eco-friendly system that showcases the value of water. That’s the message Ed Beaulieu and the Aquascape team brought to a contractor seminar held Jan. 13 in Dallas.

More than two dozen landscape contractors, distributors and garden retailers gathered for the session, “Creating Opportunity with Sustainable Landscapes.” Ed Beaulieu, Aquascape’s chief sustainability officer, described a new business model—dubbed the “triple bottom-line”—which will guide successful businesses in the future. Picture a circle that ties together environmental stewardship, economic prosperity and social responsibility.

“Work with Mother Nature, not against her,” Beaulieu urged. “That’s still our core philosophy.”

Controlling storm-water runoff in both commercial and residential landscapes is something the green industry needs to capitalize on, according to Beaulieu. Rain gardens are a good example of this. Rainwater collection and harvesting is also crucial.

To that end, Aquascape has introduced its new RainXchange rainwater harvesting system. This underground collection and storage system maintains the integrity of landscapes—which is especially critical for residential applications. A decorative water feature on the surface becomes the tangible evidence a sustainable system buried underground.

“It’s a melding of functionality and beauty,” Beaulieu said. “It gives the consumer a connection with the stored water. That’s what separates us—we’re not a commodity product.”

Beaulieu talked at length on how this melding of form and function can come together on a large scale. Projects they’ve completed at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago and Boerner Botanical Gardens in Milwaukee County, Wis., offer good examples. (You can view a comprehensive overview of how the Boerner project came together on YouTube:

The RainXchange system can also be used for commercial applications. The components can be adapted for use in retention and detention ponds on golf courses and on the grounds of commercial nurseries.

Runoff control is also playing a major role in Aquascape’s Green Community Movement. The initiative is based on grassroots program Beaulieu instituted in his own neighborhood. Members of his homeowner’s association were voicing complaints about algae blooms and odors coming from a nearby retention pond. In an informal gathering, Beaulieu told his neighbors the best way to improve the condition of the pond is to decrease the storm-water runoff their own properties are producing.

In short order, several neighbors signed up to have rainwater harvesting systems—along with their decorative elements—installed on their property. Beaulieu told seminar attendees that initiatives like this could easily be replicated in other neighborhoods. There are plenty of people out there, Beaulieu said, who “want to do their part” in creating a sustainable community.

Aquascape’s winter seminar series continues throughout this month and into February and March, visiting cities throughout the nation. For dates and locations, visit the company’s Web site:

More than two dozen landscape contractors, distributors and garden retailers gathered in Dallas for Aquascape’s “Creating Opportunity with Sustainable Landscapes” seminar.

Ed Beaulieu, Aquascape’s chief sustainability officer, discussed ways to make water features part of much bigger eco-friendly projects.