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How to get started with sustainability

February 3, 2021 -  By
Warren Gorowitz

Warren Gorowitz

Sustainability is not a new concept for the landscape and irrigation industry, though it is a key initiative for Warren Gorowitz, director of corporate social responsibility for Hunter Industries. Gorowitz shares how landscape and irrigation contractors can introduce sustainability into their companies and what to expect from his Irrigation Association presentation, “Profitability Through Sustainability,” on March 2. Find more information and register here.

LM: What do contractors need to know and understand about sustainability?

WG: Sustainability is a journey; it’s not something that can be done overnight. It’s more than creating a checklist, checking it off and you’re done. It requires coming up with a plan and creating a strategy on how you’re going to make sustainability part of your organization. Whether it’s on the business side, reducing the resources that you use — (for example, companies) can consider electronic invoicing for their customers to reduce paper usage. Or, it’s looking at their vehicle fleet and seeing if there are options to use more efficient vehicles.

Recognize that it is going to be small little wins that ultimately get you toward becoming a more sustainable business.

Another aspect of sustainability revolves around being purpose-driven about how you are helping society as a whole. How are you giving back to the community that you do business in?

I look at this also as a recruiting opportunity, and I see it becoming more of an expectation of future employees. What is their company doing to address sustainability? At Hunter, we talk about sustainability being a part of corporate social responsibility.

LM: What trends are you seeing in terms of sustainability in the irrigation industry?

WG: There’s a huge focus on green infrastructure. That’s stormwater management, things like low-impact development for new projects being built to minimize water runoff on a property, even green roofs and green walls. These are all parts of the landscape industry that are opportunities for growth.

Another trend is a focus on ecosystem benefits. That’s putting a value on the landscape itself. What value do the trees on a landscape have to the environment? Putting a dollar value on it is something that will have an impact on our industry in a positive way going forward. There’s a financial value and an environmental value to the spaces that we create and maintain. Contractors have a challenge trying to get their customers to recognize that they’re making an investment with their landscape. Investing in landscapes improves overall property values.

There’s a big focus on creating more standards for irrigation equipment and requirements for irrigation efficiency. This past year, the requirement for pressure regulation in many states has been growing. I think there are going to be more standards developed for irrigation components and probably more requirements for how they’re used. They may become more prescriptive. That’s just the nature of the fact that in the last 10-plus years, there’s a big emphasis on minimizing outdoor water use where possible.

LM: What is one thing you recommend an irrigation/ landscape company do next year in the name of sustainability?

WG: I think the thing to do is to recognize that sustainability is part of our industry; after all, we are the original green industry. We have a responsibility as an industry to be good stewards of the environment. The first step is to figure out ‘what can I do for my business?’ and ‘what can I do for my customers around sustainability?’ and then put a plan together.

LM: What is something you hope someone would learn from your presentation?

WG: My goal is they walk away knowing how to incorporate sustainability into their business. The presentation will provide them with things they can apply to their business right away.

Christina Herrick

About the Author:

Christina Herrick is the editor of Landscape Management magazine. Known for her immersive approach to travel from coast to coast in her previous stint as senior editor of American Fruit Grower Magazine, she uses social media (Twitter/Instagram @EditorHerrick) to share her experiences on the road with her audience. Herrick has a degree in journalism from Ohio Northern University and has been in B2B publishing for seven years. She can be reached at cherrick@northcoastmedia.net.

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