Sustainability leader

Features - Irrigation

A better environment is in your hands.

October 4, 2013
Richard Restuccia

Every kid in the universe knows what’s it’s like to want to grow up and change the world. That innate desire to make a difference starts in us the moment we begin to figure out ambition, and sustainability puts that power in our control.

Sustainability strategy.
For those of us in the green industry, I believe the only business strategy worth following is a sustainability strategy. Sustainability means meeting the needs of the current generation without compromising the needs of future generations. You need to ask, how can sustainability serve the core challenges of your business? The answer is a simple but hard-to-execute process. Sustainability has four components. It needs to protect the environment, care about cultures, it has to be socially responsible and it has to have economic sustainability.

Breaking it down for the landscaping industry, the social and cultural aspects includes first impressions of the business based on the landscape. It also reflects how the occupants feel about the building and how they might spend time outside the building. The economic is considering the cost of maintaining the landscape while balancing many other costs like capital improvements and other scheduled maintenance costs. Finally the environmental focuses on proper selection of plants and trees to minimize the amounts of water, fertilizer and labor required to maintain the landscape. All four need to work together to form a sustainability initiative.

Please keep in mind sustainability has no end point. We plan to have 9 billion people on the planet by 2040 so there really is no end to looking for ways to be more sustainable. We know more people are going to use more resources daily so the real question is how do you use sustainability to run your business more successfully?

The companies I am working with who are doing this best are implementing a consistent message: to engage their employees in the process and to make the process transparent. Everyone needs to know what sustainability is and how it affects their core business.

Pay enough. Unfortunately, today many people only move toward sustainability if it will save them money. As consumers, we are driven to find the best price. This drive is causing problems for the environment and people. We have to consider paying a fair price for a product or service allows companies to pay fair wages to their employees, and implement sustainable practices everyone benefits from. We can’t just slash our budgets in certain places and call it sustainability. A true sustainability approach means starting from scratch. In every business in America, there is money lying on the table in the form of inefficiencies. Removing these inefficiencies will contribute directly and immediately, to your bottom line.

Use the wave of momentum.
What motivates me every day is the global sustainability movement growing across industries. When we first started I was lucky to find a single article on smart water use. Now I can hardly count the number of reputable water management blogs on my fingers. There is a wave of action and engagement for sustainability and we need to capture this for our organizations so we can move forward in a more profitable and positive manner. So what does sustainability entail? In terms of landscape maintenance, it means reducing inputs like water, fertilizer and fuel, which contributes to reducing outputs like green waste, water pollution, and air pollution.

Now is the time to use the momentum of this growth to accelerate our businesses in a way that drives us to become more profitable with better, more sustainable products. And you know what the really good news is? You don’t have to have a corner office to be a sustainability leader. Every single one of us can influence and motivate those around us to be more sustainable.


The author is director, water management solutions at ValleyCrest Landscape Cos.