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Commercial Landscapes Becoming More Dynamic

Published Friday Sep 14, 2018

Author Robert Cook

Commercial Landscapes Becoming More Dynamic

When Service Credit Union in Portsmouth unveiled its new LEED Gold-certified corporate headquarters in 2012, it made sure it was designed not only with modern amenities but also with an eye towards sustainability and keeping employees connected to the outdoors.

While the building itself, notable for its curved glass facade, allows for ample natural light from atrium skylights and the glazed facades, the credit union also focused on its natural surroundings. The building and grounds include rooftop terraces for employees, a one-third of a mile walking path, a covered lunch pavilion along the walkway and a natural landscape that has 250 percent more open space than required by local zoning. The landscaping features native species of plants in a range of colors and textures that bloom throughout the spring and summer.

Service Credit Union’s Portsmouth campus as a whole features 40 percent less water use for a building its size, 36 percent less energy consumption and 63 percent less carbon dioxide emissions, according to Lori Holmes, assistant vice president of marketing and communications.

It’s an example of the thought companies are putting into their outdoor amenities and wanting more than maintained lawns, shrubs and flowers. “It’s a welcome sight because I think back in the 80s, it was cookie cutter and all the buildings looked the same, and the outdoor landscape looked the same,” says Jim Moreau, who has worked for Northeast Turf and Irrigation Supply in Londonderry for 14 years and is president of the NH Landscape Association. “This trend will revitalize a lot of existing landscapes and make them look better than they used to.”

He says more companies realize they need to invest in landscaping to be more appealing to workers and enhance their brand. “I think a lot of people are looking for that extended cafeteria so people can actually sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. More sunlight and fresh air can actually boost employees’ morale and productivity,” Moreau says.

According to the National Association of Landscape Professionals, companies that provide employees “with interactions with nature also benefit. Research conducted by Rachael Kaplan, Ph.D., showed that workers who could view nature from their desks had much better job and life satisfaction and better health.”

In Lawn & Landscape’s 2017 “State of the Industry Report,” indicators demonstrate people are investing more in landscaping. The median revenue of landscaping companies nationally has grown by $70,000 to $291,000 in the past three years with landscape maintenance as the most profitable service provided, followed by landscape design and construction, according to the report. Those were also reported to be the fastest growing services as well.

The report also found 75 percent of the companies surveyed reported they were very confident or confident that their business will grow, and 86 percent turned a profit in 2016.

Much to Consider
There are myriad possibilities to use plantings, water features, outdoor sound systems and hardscapes (such as concrete walks, stone pathways, retaining walls and decks) in creative ways and make sure outdoor areas meet ADA (Americans With Disabilities Act) standards. “They are going to have to do their homework,” Moreau says. It may mean also enlisting a landscape architect to guide the process. David DeJohn, a past president of the NH Landscape Association, says companies are putting a premium on ecologically sound practices with their projects. He says landscapers want to protect the land and the environment by reusing existing plants and reducing the use of chemicals for lawn maintenance. Businesses also recognize this is good for
their image.

The University of NH Cooperative Extension is a resource for landscapers who want to learn more about environmental practices that can protect species like bees, birds and insects that aid sustainability, DeJohn says. “We really spend a lot of time educating our clients about the best practices to protect pollinators and wildlife,” he adds.

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