Greening Landscape and Buildings 2017-01-14T18:58:59+00:00

Greening your landscape and building

An appealing landscape and building play important roles in attracting customers and increasing property values. Following these simple maintenance and operational practices can enhance first impressions, reduce costs and improve exterior and interior environmental quality.

1. Plant native species

Green landscaping uses native plant materials to help wildlife, improve local character and reduce maintenance efforts. Native species have adapted to local soil and climate conditions. This means that they will not require much watering or chemical fertilizers and pesticides to thrive. Also, many native species thrive on poor soils.

  • Benefits: Less watering, less maintenance, less chemical fertilizers and less pesticides means less cost to you.
  • More about native plants: Native plants suitable for your area: Contact your state agricultural extension service or local plant nurseries.

2. Reduce the environmental impact of ice-melting chemicals

Removing snow and ice from sidewalks and roadways is an important health and safety issue that can have significant environmental impacts depending on the ice-melting chemicals used. Common ice-melters include ammonium sulfate, urea (nitrogen fertilizer) sodium chloride (rock salt), calcium chloride, magnesium chloride, potassium chloride, potassium acetate and calcium magnesium acetate.

While all chlorides may be toxic to vegetation if used in large quantities, potassium and magnesium chloride products (described below) are preferable to sodium or calcium chloride products because they are less damaging to plants, concrete, carpeting and hard surfaces. Apply chemical de-icers with a spreader (or sprayer for liquids) to minimize the amount of product used.

  • Benefit: You can reduce the cost and environmental impact of using de-icing chemicals by timely removal of snow using shovels, snow blowers or plows before it is compacted by traffic.
  • Read about correctly using de-icers – Safer de-icing chemicals cost about two to three times more than salt or sand but the focus should be on what you’re saving.
Calcium Chloride
  • Works to -25 degrees
  • Advantages – produces heat as it melts and is less harmful to vegetation
  • Disadvantages – corrosive to metal; leaves residue harmful to carpet, tile, shoes; attracts moisture from the air
  • Cost – three times more than salt
Magnesium Chloride
  • Works to -13 degrees
  • Advantages – produces heat as it melts and is less harmful to vegetation
  • Disadvantages – keeps pavement wet if it attracts too much moisture from air; corrosive to metal
  • Cost – two times more than salt

3. Perform regular roof inspections and debris removal

The life expectancy of most commercial roofs is about 20 years. Proper maintenance can identify and correct minor defects and problems that, if left unattended, could lead to damage or roof failure. Conduct routine inspections monthly. Remove debris, leaves, paper, vegetation and other items that can clog drains and scuppers. Focus inspections on split seams, separated layers, failed flashings and surface punctures.

  • Benefit: These efforts protect your 20-year-plus investment and also reduce the possibility of unexpected leaks that may damage the structure, interior furnishings and fixtures. They also may prevent the development of dangerous mold. To further protect your roof and reduce energy use, consider adding a light-colored reflective coating. Reflective or “cool” roofs can provide a building with up to 50 percent energy savings and reduce peak cooling demands.

4. Try sustainable landscaping practices

Reducing and recycling green waste, conserving water, mulching and composting can produce significant economic and environmental benefits. Savings include reduced labor, water and fertilizer costs, lower hauling expenses and disposal fees. Also, less exposure to workers’ compensation claims from crew injury caused by lifting heavy loads of green material. Grass cycling, composting and mulching return valuable organic material to the soil. This increases the water-holding capacity of soil, reduces erosion and conserves water. Proper watering, fertilizing and pruning – along with integrated pest management – can encourage healthier, disease-resistant plants. This, in turn, can reduce the amount of pesticides, fertilizers and other toxic runoff entering storm drains and polluting creeks, lakes and rivers.

  • Benefits: Many landscape maintenance contractors follow sustainable landscaping practices. Like you, they know it’s good for the environment and the bottom line.

5. Clean green inside

Green cleaning is a new approach to janitorial services that offers better environmental performance and improved worker health and safety while retaining the same sanitation quality as traditional, more chemical-intensive methods. When correctly employed, no “cleaning power” is sacrificed through green cleaning practices.

Many cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can have serious adverse effects on janitorial staff, building occupants and the environment. People handling products used to clean floors, carpets, plumbing fixtures and other building elements can be at risk for a number of adverse health effects. Janitorial products can also cause harm to the environment during their use if they are poured down drains, circulated through building ventilation systems or disposed of outdoors.

Used correctly, green cleaning can help reduce many of these health and environmental hazards.

  • Benefits: The Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of purchasing and using green janitorial services and products. It is designed to forecast the environmental benefits of reducing chemical use by doing some or all pollution prevention measures typically involved in the routine interior cleaning of an office building.
  • Green Seal is an independent, nonprofit organization that evaluates and certifies green products. Relevant Green Seal cleaning product standards are GS-37 for Industrial and Institutional Cleaners and GS-40 for Industrial and Institutional Floor-Care Products.


Do it Now

  • Got ice or snow? Use magnesium or calcium chloride
  • Have your roof inspected
  • Talk to your landscape maintenance firm about their sustainable landscaping practices
  • Plant a few native plants around your building or home


Greening Your Bottom Line

By enhancing the landscape around your building and improving maintenance practices inside, you not only increase the well-being of visitors and occupants but also reduce costs and improve long-term prospects to protect the environment.

Source:  Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company

At Ellis Insurance, we are proud to be a green insurance leader.  We have been providing exceptional service and intelligent insurance for over 20 years.  Please contact us for additional information on our creative and industry-leading green insurance alternatives.