Using water sustainably through landscape design

With increased awareness of sustainability, hotels are paying more attention to the efficient use of water in both landscape design and preservation.

Selinger, of St. Legere Design International, said that Rimba’s irrigation system uses both treated water from the hotel’s reverse-osmosis system, and rainwater to minimize the use of freshwater. The resort also has two on-site water-recycling plants, and Selinger noted that by interconnecting the pools, fewer pumps were needed to bring water into each unit. 

For the Four Seasons in Dubai, ADE’s Martin said that his team focused on sustainability, especially given the scarcity of fresh water in the desert environment. Using a regenerative media filtration system, the hotel operates on a month-long filter cycle and can save an estimated 95 percent of its water. 

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Water management company HydroPoint has installed its WeatherTRAK irrigation system at several hotels in the United States, including the Moana Surfrider and the Westin Maui in Hawaii and the Westin Kierland and the Phoenician in Arizona. “Hotels know the value of having a gorgeous landscape,” HydroPoint CEO and Founder Chris Spain said. “They are also great environmental stewards, because they know if there’s [wasted water], they’ll take a lot of heat.”

The dual goal of landscape aesthetics and resource management has pushed managers to technology, he added. “Water can go where you don’t want it to, and it’s a very powerful force.” While underwatering can hurt the plant life, overwatering can lead to runoff that can cause slips and falls at best and foundation damage at worst. “If you can control your outdoor water in an intelligent fashion, and you cycle your water so [you] don’t use more than the soil can absorb, you can eliminate that runoff.” 

The system, Spain continued, provides management options like analyzing the benefits of using different sprinkler heads, adding native plant types or ensuring a property’s irrigation schedules are in compliance with local water agency regulations. “You can’t make intelligent decisions and changes unless you have the data,” Spain said.