Green Stormwater Infrastructure Partners

The Sustainable Business Network (SBN) is a group of businesses and individuals who have joined together to help build a just, green and thriving economy within the Philadelphia region. The SBN is an effective resource that helps locally-owned businesses improve their environmental and community impact while also advancing profits. Cedar Run Landscapes has been involved with SBN since 2008 when we won the triple bottom award. We have also been closely involved in the organizations newest priority initiative, Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) Partners.

PDW Rain Check Project: Concrete driveway replaced with permeable pavers

The trend toward sustainable living and awareness of how individual actions impact our local environment has begun to transform how we manage our stormwater. To help improve upon this movement it is essential that industry leaders help identify the barriers small businesses come across within the GSI industry. Cedar Run Landscapes has taken up this task by participating as a member of the GSI Partners sub-committee, Local Community of Practice. This committee consists of industry leaders that are focused on growing a vibrant green stormwater approach to the management of stormwater. Several of the committee’s objectives are to grow leadership among its participants, identify any obstacles that GSI businesses come across during implementing new infrastructure, and providing recommendations to improve the process.

A rain garden capturing roof runoff from two neighboring homes.

GSI Partners was created in response to the Philadelphia Water Department’s program ‘Green Cities Clean Waters’, a 25 year plan to protect and enhance our watershed through managing stormwater with innovative green infrastructure. Cedar Run Landscapes has also been a part of the Philadelphia Water Departments Rain Check Program, which supports Green Cities Clean Waters. Check out our previous blog posts to see some of our recent projects we’ve installed through Rain Check.

The Rain Guy’s Summer Travels

Image

This summer ‘The Rain Guy’ took a trip to check out some interesting projects that were happening in New York and Chicago. He first stopped by New York City’s High Line which opened up its second section between West 20th and West 30th Streets on June 8, 2011.

The High Line

View of High Line

The High Line is a linear park built on the former elevated freight railroad along the lower west side of Manhattan. The park takes the concept of a green roof to a whole new level. The multiple layered ‘living roof’ includes pourous drainage, gravel, filter fabric, subsoil and topsoil, allowing everything from small perennials to full grown tree’s to grown high above the streetscape. Parts of the park are also designed to re-circulate water and there are future plans to harvest rainwater from the roofs of nearby buildings. The High Line Project is a great example of how sustainable landscape ideas can be successfully used to create unique and beautiful spaces.

Bird houses on the High Line

After visiting New York, The Rain Guy was then off to Chicago to participate in Aquascape Inc.’s sustainable outdoor water feature build at Shedd Aquarium. The pond, stream and wetland installation was devised to serve as a hands-on training event for Certified Aquascape Contractors to learn the latest innovations and applications of sustainable landscape solutions. The design philosophy of this project was to incorporate the native flora and fauna while emulating a native Illinois stream.

Contractors working together at Shedd Aquarium

The Rain Guy worked with contractors from across the continent to install a 30’ x15’ pond, which included a 1,500 gallon reservoir, allowing the feature to operate for extended periods without rainfall. Along with a 50-foot long stream and waterfall system, the project included an oversized wetland to provide water filtration while also creating a unique aquatic habitat. The water feature will serve as one of the aquarium’s exhibits. It will also help educate visitors about the importance of native habitats and how we can make a positive impact on our environment.

Completed Water Feature

Completed Water Feature before Landscaping

To learn more about these places check out the links below:

High Line

http://www.thehighline.org/

http://www.asla.org/sustainablelandscapes/highline.html

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/04/ny-high-line/cook-photography

Shedd Aquarium

http://www.aquascapeinc.com/index.php?page=news&n_id=63

http://www.sheddaquarium.org/

http://www.houzz.com/photos/31584/Shedd-Aquarium-Water-Feature-landscape-chicago

Pond Builder of the Year!

We got some great news this week at Cedar Run Landscapes — our company received an Honorable Mention in the Water Garden News magazine‘s Pond Builder of the Year competition! A profile of Cedar Run, as well as the other contest winners, will appear in an upcoming issue.

We’re very excited and honored to be recognized for our creative design skills in pond-building, and for the ways in which we’ve given back to our local community by educating about rainwater harvesting with water garden features.

From the Rain Guy's beautiful pond at home

Garden Giving and Green Drinks

We had a great time helping the students and faculty at Shady Grove Elementary School (part of the Wissahickon school district in Montgomery county) with the planting of their new garden. Cedar Run Landscapes donated soil, labor, and equipment to help the students plant vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The school’s goal is for students to learn about the earth and environment by planting and maintaining the garden over the year. I  was contacted by a parent of one of the students, who remembered us from last year’s Ponds for Kids project.

My employees and I helped the students plant lettuce, spinach, snap peas and crimson clover (cover crop to help provide nitrogen for the next year’s crops), as well as a few flowers for the native plant butterfly garden.

Cedar Run Landscapes with students from Shady Grove Elementary

More photos from the day are available on Snapfish and our Flickr page

What’s next on the Cedar Run Landscapes agenda?

We’re hosting the next Whitpain Township Green Drinks meeting at our office in North Wales on September 20, at 6:30 pm. Please join us for a group tour, discussions, and refreshments.

We’d be delighted to have you join us for this event, which is open free to everyone.  Green Drinks is a group that gets together to talk about some green issues, network, share ideas, and brainstorm. At this meeting, I’ll be giving a tour of our Cedar Run Landscapes facilities, showing the group our 13 water features, including 2 rainwater harvesting and re-use systems, rain gardens, constructed wetland filters, permeable patios, eco-system ponds, pondless waterfalls and fountains, and talking about the ways in which we’ve successfully reduced waste and saved energy by recycling rain water.

Below is contact information for the group – if you’re interested, please RSVP by emailing WissahickonGrowingGreener [at] gmail.com. Or become a fan of the Wissahickon Growing Greener page on Facebook, where you can RSVP to this event and continue to receive updates about upcoming Green Drinks happenings!

We hope to see you there,

The Rain Guy

Joining the green “alphabet soup”

Over the past few weeks I’ve had the chance to join what I’m calling the green “alphabet soup” of organizations that are having great discussions about conservation practices in the Philadelphia area. On May 13, I attended the Urban Land Institute (ULI) for their 2nd Annual Urban Marketplace, a day-long forum where I heard from mayors of Camden, Wilmington, and Easton about the green initiatives in their cities, and met with other policy makers and members of the green community.

I was also invited to join the Business United for Conservation Industry Partnership (BUC), and met with the group last week for a networking breakfast. The BUC was established by the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) in response to businesses that identified the need to centralize best management practices, curriculum development, and training for storm water management. Other companies participating in the storm water management discussion included design, architecture, engineering, landscaping, green roofs, construction, and financing firms.

It’s great to see so many businesses and political leaders creating open discussion about the best practices for handling our natural resources, and I’m ecstatic to have Cedar Run Landscapes (CRL) as an active participant!

Girl Scouts “do a good turn” learning about rainwater harvesting

Last week, we hosted the Girl Scout Brownie Troop 7019 from Montgomery Elementary school (where we built a rainwater harvesting system last year) at the Cedar Run Landscapes nursery to teach them about rainwater harvesting and rain gardens, so that they could work towards fulfilling their “Earth and Sky Try-It” badge requirements. The troop saw examples of rainwater harvest systems, rain gardens and permeable patios, and learned how such designs help to control erosion and conserve natural resources.

Four of the Girl Scouts were also seeking a Junior Level badge onRain guy and girl scouts Plants and Animals, and fulfilled this requirement at Cedar Run by learning about different types of propagation, and then helping to divide and pot up chive plants to take home. It’s great to see eco-consciouness and conservation lessons included in the girl scouts’ goal of doing “a good turn daily.”

We’re always happy to help educate visitors from all age groups on the subject of sustainable landscape design. If you’re interested in learning more, stop by our “Rainwater Harvesting, Rain Gardens, and Ponds” Open House this Saturday, May 15, from 10 am to 2 pm. The event is free and open to the public!

“Mrs. Rain Guy” and millions of others left dry

Courtesy of Water.org

I’ve been busy this weekend with ordering supplies for my nursery, helping to rototill the new community vegetable garden at our neighborhood synagogue, and partaking in Philly’s biggest weekend for disc golf at Sedgley Woods.

Meanwhile, “Mrs. Rain Guy” is up in Boston for a business conference. Unfortunately, the city of Boston and 29 suburbs have been left without drinkable tap water since Saturday evening – the result of a giant water pipe rupture. It’s been a major inconvenience for residents and businesses, who are required to boil water for drinking, brushing teeth, etc. While this is a temporary situation, it’s an important reminder of the value of our water supply, which is an issue of sustainability that I feel passionate about. Water is often an undervalued resource in the minds of people who are lucky enough to have it readily available, even though it is so precious and vital to our existence.

Here are a few facts from Water.org to consider:

  • Less than 1% of the world’s fresh water (or about 0.007% of all water on earth) is readily accessible for direct human use.
  • 884 million people, lack access to safe water supplies, approximately one in eight people.
  • On average, every US dollar invested in water and sanitation provides an economic return of eight US dollars.
  • An investment of US$11.3 billion per year is needed to meet the drinking water and sanitation target of the Millennium Development Goals, yielding a total payback for US$ 84 billion a year.
  • Other estimated economic benefits of investing in drinking-water and sanitation :
    • 272 million school attendance days a year
    • 1.5 billion healthy days for children under five years of age
    • Values of deaths averted, based on discounted future earnings, amounting to US$ 3.6 billion a year
    • Health-care savings of US$ 7 billion a year for health agencies and US$ 340 million for individuals

By being more mindful of consumption, and/or utilizing sustainable systems like rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, and permeable patios, you can help preserve our water resources and reduce costs in capital and conservation. If you are interested in learning more about these topics, join us at the Cedar Run Landscapes Open House on May 15, 10-2 pm at our nursery in North Wales, PA.

Rain Guy Hits the Road

Beth Or Eco-Expo

Showing the rainwater harvesting system to participants at the Beth Or Eco-Expo

I’ve had the opportunity to take the “Rain Guy” show on the road over the past two months – educating at different trade shows, schools, and expos. In January, I spoke at Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture about the rainwater harvesting systems that Cedar Run Landscapes has been utilizing for our company, and building for our customers. At the end of the month, I attended the Eco-Expo at the Congregation Beth Or in Maple Glen as a rainwater harvesting exhibitor. It was a great event that brought together  other “green building” professionals and retailers, nonprofit advocacy groups, a native plant nursery, etc.

EP Henry invited me to speak at several conferences in January and February on the integration of our rainwater harvesting systems with permeable paver patios and rain gardens. Those stops included their Mid-Atlantic hard-scaping trade show in Virginia, as well as conferences in Lancaster and Atlantic City.

In addition to speaking regionally about rainwater harvesting, I’ve recently joined the Delaware Valley Green Building Council, a local division of the U.S. Green Building Council, which developed the LEED rating system for certification of green buildings. I’m hoping to broaden my network of contacts that are on the forefront of sustainable design and construction efforts in the Philadelphia area.

 It’s been great to be able to share my experience and expertise with interested audiences, and to meet colleagues who are participating in these important environmental measures! Staying in the loop is important in this field that is constantly growing. Last month I sent out my first issue of the Cedar Run Landscapes e-newsletter; a new method of keeping in contact with my customers, colleagues, and friends. If you’re interested in keeping up to date with Cedar Run Landscapes’ news, stories, and garden advice, email me at:

Info@CedarRunLandscapes.com

and I’ll add you to our email list!

ROI on RWH

I have been doing presentations on rainwater harvesting this winter, and invariably get asked about the return on investment that can be expected from our systems. I try to show folks that the true cost of the water we use is not shown in our water bills.

We are paying wasteful water use with the degradation of our environment, and in our taxes. As our distribution systems deteriorate, and more development demands more water, more infrastructure investments must be made.

Here is a great article from The Sunshine Coast Daily, in Queensland, that illustrates this point – it reports on how a town is developing a plan to save about $360 million (US), by foregoing a new water distribution system in exchange for Rain Water Harvesting on each of the 1000 houses in town.
If only we could get this moving more rapidly in the states – that is some serious ROI from RWH!

Rainwater Harvesting system at Cedar Run Landscapes office

“Winter Break” for Aquascapers

I recently had the opportunity to leave behind the frigid temperatures of the Northeast, for a visit to Cabo San Lucas,

Aquascape Contractors on the beach in Cabo San Lucas

Mexico! Because Cedar Run Landscapes is a certified Aquascape contractor company, I was invited to be a participant in an Aquascape focus group,  helping them to fine tune their “Creating Opportunity with Sustainable Landscapes” Seminar which will be on national tour in January and February. This was an amazing opportunity to be a part of this small group of participants that met with Greg Wittstock, CEO of Aquascape, and Ed Beaulieu, their Chief Sustainability Officer, to discuss the content and presentation. I was asked to use my experience in rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, sustainable landscapes and business practices, and comment on how their presentation promoted these initiatives. The informal atmosphere gave us Aquascape contractors some time to get to know each other and learn more about the different approaches we take towards sustainability on a personal and business level.

Newly hatched sea turtles on the beach

Our meeting was held at the Marbella Suites En La Playa, which also is the host location for the American Leadership Academy a non-profit organization devoted to leadership training for college students. It is a beautiful spot along the Sea of Cortez with lots of wildlife -  we saw whales in the surf, a flock of  pelicans flying overhead in  V formation, and even helped a nest of emerging sea turtles to avoid being consumed by a large group of Bat Rays waiting for them to swim into the surf!

Stay Tuned:

I will be making some speaking appearances in January and February, presenting on our work in rainwater harvesting and gardens, the integration of permeable paver patios with rain water storage, and our Ponds For Kids program. Presentations will be sponsored by The Pa. Landscape and Nursery Association, E.P. Henry, The Penn State Agricultural Extension Service and Delaware Valley College of Science and Agriculture. Please let me know if you would like dates and times!