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Brickman’s Cammarata sees sustainable care as a slam dunk for clients

June 1, 2011 -  By

By: Ron Hall

People. Planet. Profits.

Landscapers generally recognize these three P’s as central to their understanding of sustainability. To Larry Cammarata, the reference to “people” is not some abstract reference; they’re customers.

He acknowledges that the responsibility of providing environmentally responsible services must not harm and, indeed, should help the bottom line of the landscape companies. He also says that they must offer a measurable return (reduced costs, more attractive landscape) for landscape services clients.

Cammarata says he believes that if he can show clients that they’ll recoup their landscape investment within three to five years, many of them will make the investment in more environmentally sound practices. They’ll also be more pleased with his company’s services, and remain customers.

Cammarata is the Green Management Consultant at The Brickman Group, based in Gaithersburg, MD. He may be the only person in the industry with that title. He may also be the only person in the industry specifically tasked with performimg environmental audits on the landscapes that come under his company’s care. Brickman is one of the two largest maintainers of commercial landscapes in the United States.

Cammarata approaches each client with the same mindset; to appraise the landscape as a whole. He critically assesses how its many component pieces function together. In all, he scrutinizes seven different landscape elements — from stormwater management to landscape waste recycling — but never one element apart from the bigger landscape picture.

“The industry treats plants, soil and water independently,” says Cammarata. “They have to be considered together.”

Cammarata says that soils are typically the weakest component in most landscapes. They’re also the most difficult (and expensive) for clients to remediate. In many cases, improving a site’s irrigation provides the most achievable and noticeable improvements to a commercial landscape’s long-term health. These improvements go way beyond replacing a clock.

“Misuse of water is a huge problem,” says Cammarata, who has audited hundreds of landscapes. “The industry is not good at measuring the amount of water it is using.”

In the three years he has been auditing commercial landscapes, Cammarata says he has yet to find a landscape with an irrigation system providing a distribution uniformity (DU) above 33%. DU in irrigation is a measure of how uniformly water is applied to the area being watered, expressed as a percentage. The lower the DU, the less likely that water is being applied where it is needed, only when it is needed and in proper quantities for optimum plant health.

Cammarata says that by identifying issues that negatively affect the performance of commercial landscapes, then taking the appropriate actions to rectify them, his company provides clients with better-looking landscapes — often at reduced costs.

“This is a slam dunk, and it drives my world,” says Cammarata, who made tbese comments as part of a morning-long sustainability session at the recent Turf & Ornamental Communicators Conference in Asheville, NC.

LM Staff

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