Stormwater runoff from the built environment, often mixed with contaminants, has a damaging effect on local and downstream ecosystems. Porous paving products and vegetated roofing systems result in less rainwater runoff and thereby reduce surface water pollution. Stormwater treatment systems reduce pollutant levels in any water that is released. Again, quantifiable benefit and a strong track record are important determinants here of “green.”
All toilets and most showerheads today meet the federal water-efficiency standards, but not all of these products perform satisfactorily. With toilets and showerheads, we include products that meet or exceed WaterSense standards, which includes performance requirements—although we go beyond WaterSense where there are issues not adequately addressed by the program. We also look for other products that conserve potable water, such as rainwater catchment and graywater recovery and reuse systems.
Cutting Edge grass seed is a blend of non-genetically-modified Kentucky blue grass and fescue varieties that create a root system capable of growing 48 inches deep—reaching areas where water is more likely to be found in drought conditions. The company uses an organic seed coating that provides hydration and contains endophytes, a naturally occurring fungus that repels insects, and rhizomes that encourage root growth. The combination of slow growth and drought-, insect-, and disease-resistance significantly reduces maintenance, according to the company. Cutting Edge grass seed is for use in cool season and transitional zones. Note that because the company will not divulge its proprietary cultivars, Cutting Edge is not available in states that require full disclosure of grass varieties.
Lawn maintenance is a major source of air pollution and contaminated runoff from fertilizers and pesticides. Close to 40 million gas-powered mowers are used on the lawns of America. While domestic manufacturers have decreased their products’ emissions significantly (as required by EPA regulations), an hour of mowing the lawn with a current gas-powered machine still pollutes about as much as driving a late-model car for 13 hours.
Compounding the problem, fertilizer runoff from lawns is one of our most significant non-point-source water pollution problems; also, lawn pesticides are commonly applied at rates up to 20 times that of agricultural pesticides.
Recognizing its significant environmental advantages, GreenSpec lists landscaping that requires less mowing, fertilizing, and pesticide use.
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