Local shopping center invests in saving water

Last Updated: 7/26/2017

When you run upscale shopping centers like the Ridge at Creekside, appearances count for a lot.

“Having beautiful landscape, seasonal flowers and well-pruned trees creates a welcoming environment and draws the customer to the center. Customers don’t want to shop at a center where the grass is brown,” explained Michelle Kaus, general manager for DDR Corp., which owns and manages the Ridge at Creekside.

Brown grass and dying landscape resulting from the watering restrictions during the extreme drought of 2015 led DDR to make a substantial investment in irrigation sustainability projects in 2016.

“Our company has had sustainability initiatives for several years,” she told us recently. “DDR believes that sustainability investments are part of being a responsible organization. It’s important for us to use resources wisely, particularly in a drought, and we look for projects that will have the greatest impact on the environment while also delivering a financial benefit to our tenants and shareholders.”

In 2016, DDR dug deep — literally and figuratively — to make its Creekside property more water efficient.

It installed new state-of-the-art irrigation controllers and hydrometers. The controllers have remote management capability and weather tracking features, which allow you to irrigate only when you need it. The hydrometers shut the system down when they detect unscheduled water flow, which prevents water waste that often goes on for days.

Michelle said, “The hydrometers are the key to saving water. You have to stop undetected leaks.”

DDR also removed over 3,000 square feet of turf and replaced it with low- to medium-water use trees and shrubs. It also removed above-ground spray nozzles that watered 8,509 square feet of turf and converted to a subterranean Netafim™ drip system. 

The company paid approximately $65,000 for this work, but Environmental Utilities provided DDR with a substantial rebate from its Commercial Irrigation Efficiency rebate program to help defray the costs of the upgrades.

“This project has a four-to-five-year payback period and we anticipate a 30 percent to 40 percent reduction in water use as compared to the non-drought years,” she said. This equates to an estimated savings of 4.8 million gallons of water per year.

Michelle added, “It didn’t make sense not to do it. We would not be working in our tenants’ or owners’ best interest if we didn’t invest in these improvements.”

“We live in a drought-prone area,” Michelle noted. “Making these improvements is an investment in risk management. The conversion from spray head to drip system will put us in a much better position the next time a drought comes along. Areas with drip irrigation also have a more lenient watering schedule during drought restrictions.”

Michelle had high praise for John Shannon, one of Environmental Utilities' water efficiency specialists. “The guy really knows his stuff. He helped us through the entire process from the planning stages through the final inspection, assisting along the way to ensure we got this right. John also helped us submit our rebate application on the project. He was a great collaborator.”

“If you work for a business that has a long-term perspective, you must make water sustainability investments,” Michelle commented. “This project was just the beginning for DDR Corp. We have just begun on what will be a multi-year continued investment in irrigation upgrades at our shopping center in Roseville.”

“It’s the right thing to do, and it’s the smart thing do to for both your tenants and stakeholders,” she continued. “When it comes to water, we all need to think and act strategically.”