Smart landscaping tips for small business’s energy efficiency.
  • Category:
    Energy Efficiency
  • Published:
    June 25, 2024
  • Updated:
    July 11, 2024

Smart Landscaping Tips for Small Business Energy Efficiency

More and more small businesses are upgrading their properties with smart, energy-efficient landscaping. Sustainability and energy efficiency have become important considerations when it comes to creating and maintaining outdoor spaces at a business.

What is smart landscaping and how can it help businesses conserve energy?

What is smart landscaping and how can it help businesses conserve energy?

Smart landscaping is all about sustainability and energy efficiency. The plantings around your business should be both functional and pleasing to the eye. This includes contributing to biodiversity with a variety of native plants that encourage pollinators and support local wildlife.

It also can include improving energy efficiency and better use of resources. Energy efficient landscaping for small businesses conserves the use of water and minimizes the need for gas or electric mowers, edgers or trimmers. Composting and recycling material from plants means you can conserve more energy and water.

Yet another functional aspect of landscaping for energy conservation includes the strategic use of plants to lower energy demand inside your building. Trees and shrubs shade your roof and windows from the heat of the sun, reducing your air conditioner usage in the summer. Plus, planting trees as windbreaks will reduce energy usage for heat in the winter.

How much energy can your business save with smart landscaping?

With so many benefits, it’s no wonder that 2024 small business landscaping trends  include ideas for energy conservation and sustainability. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that properly located trees can shave off 25% of the energy used in a typical building. By maximizing shade in summer and deflecting frigid winter winds, trees may give your HVAC system a break all year round.

Other benefits of smart landscaping

Smart landscaping for small businesses can work like advertising, drawing the attention of  customers and the community. A well-kept property shows that your business cares about the environment. It can also help your property stand out with real “curb appeal.” Attractive outdoor spaces offer pleasant areas for your employees to enjoy break time and can also offer memorable meeting spots for entertaining customers.

Before getting started, consider your climate

Energy efficient landscaping choices will be shaped by your climate. The types of plants that thrive in one region may not survive in another. The need for shade and protection from wind will also vary by the seasons in your area. Microclimates matter. A business near a lake, in a valley or on the side of a mountain will each experience different conditions, even if a few miles apart.

Here are some general regional considerations as you plan your smart landscaping for small business plantings.

  • Cool region: If your business is in a cold climate, you don’t want to block the winter sun from shining in and warming south-facing rooms. Planting evergreen trees for a thick windbreak will protect your building from the cold.
  • Temperate region: Deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter let the warmth of the sun in during cold months, but offer welcome shade when it’s hot.
  • Hot-humid region: Shade is vital in these areas. Use plants that don’t need frequent watering, to avoid adding to the humidity around your building. Shading your air conditioner is also helpful.
  • Hot-arid region: Look for drought-resistant trees that offer a high and wide canopy. These allow cool breezes to penetrate and increase shade over your roof and windows.

Smart landscaping tips for small businesses

Smart landscaping tips for small businesses.

When landscaping for energy conservation, these tips will help you get the greatest energy efficiency from your choices.

1. Strategically plant trees and shrubs

Use trees and shrubs for energy efficient landscaping in both the summer and winter. Planting deciduous trees on the southern side of your building can block 70-90% of the sun’s heat in the summer, but will let it shine in during winter months when the leaves have fallen.

The air under the shade of a tree can be up to 25°F cooler than the air in your open parking lot. While they’re helping you trim your energy usage, the trees on your property are also absorbing carbon dioxide and improving air quality.

2. Create windbreaks to help insulate your building

Have you felt the effect of windchill? It can feel like the cold is going right through your body. The effect is the same on a building. When the wind is blowing at 20 miles per hour and the temperature is 10°F, it can feel like it’s almost twice as cold, with a wind chill of -24°F.

Evergreen trees can minimize the amount of wind that hits the side of your building, reducing windchill. That’s why planting a windbreak with evergreens is such an effective way to help your heating system operate more efficiently.

3. Use groundcover plants and shrubs to cool the air

Covering more of your property with shrubs and plants will contribute to cooler air around your building. These plants shield the soil from the heat of the sun, while absorbing heat and releasing water vapor for a cooling effect. Ground cover plants actually slow the evaporation of water from the soil, allowing it to absorb more heat.

4. Shade your air conditioner

Your air conditioner works more efficiently in the shade. Placing it on the north side of your building will keep it out of the direct sun, and shading it with trees will keep it more protected for a longer period of the day. Take care that your landscaping does not block the free flow of air around the unit and keep it clear of any fallen leaves.

5. Choose low-maintenance plants

Watering, mowing, spraying and clipping all use energy. Invest in plants that thrive without constant care to cut down on the resources needed to maintain them. Drought-resistant plants and plants native to your area are likely to thrive without the extra care that exotic and hybridized plants require.

6. Conserve water with xeriscaping

Xeriscaping is a specialized approach to landscaping that cuts down on the water you need to keep your property healthy. Smart landscaping for small businesses that conserves water involves everything from adding organic matter to increase the soil’s ability to retain moisture, to efficient irrigation methods, to the right plant selection.

7. Select plants that are native and appropriate for your zone

Choosing native plants will typically create a landscape that thrives with less effort and fewer energy demands. In addition to selecting plants suited to your climate and soil, landscaping for energy conservation has the added benefit of supporting the local ecosystem of bugs, birds and animals adapted to local vegetation.

8. Reduce the amount of grass on your property

Turf grasses are not native and do nothing to support the local ecosystem. A single type of plant with shallow roots that covers an expanse of your property does little to enhance your soil and typically requires a great deal of water and frequent mowing. Bringing in a variety of local plants to replace turf adds interest and improves the sustainability of your landscaping.

9. Use organic fertilizer

It takes energy for chemical companies to make and ship amendments for your plantings. By composting and using natural, local fertilizer, you will save energy, reduce chemical runoff and contribute to richer soil that gets better year after year.

10. Include rain barrels

Barrels for collecting and saving rainwater provide your landscape with a natural water source to get you through dry periods, without relying on your water utility. You can find them in attractive styles that become part of your landscape design.

Saving and using rain in landscaping for energy conservation means you rely less on public water and reduce the energy it takes to pump it to your property.

Complement your business with appropriate landscaping

Smart landscaping for small businesses will improve the energy efficiency of your property, add beauty that brings positive attention to your space and can actually complement your business. Adding shade outside a restaurant can open up more seating areas. Adding tree islands interspersed across a wide expanse of blacktop makes it more comfortable for your customers to park there.

We at Constellation are committed to being your energy efficiency and sustainability partner as you grow your small business. We invite you to explore small business solutions that can help power your growth.

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