Creating Green and Sustainable Landscapes across the Midwest

Practices help the agency save money on landscaping costs

Over the past few years, property management teams at federal buildings across the Great Lakes Region have worked hard to reduce costs by integrating sustainability in everything we do. While these efforts have focused on what goes on inside our buildings, we have made efforts to include sustainable practices in our landscaping, helping us realize both short- and long-term savings.

Native Flowers
The U.S. Courthouse in Hammond, Ind., has made it regular practice to incorporate indigenous plants and shrubs into the landscaping.

For GSA, green and sustainable landscape design is meant to be both attractive and in balance with the local landscape. We’ve focused attention on the design’s functionality, cost-effectiveness, visual appearance, and environmental friendliness. Sustainable landscaping design helps us reduce waste and prevents air, water and soil pollution.

The progress we’ve made regionwide can be seen at the U.S. Courthouse in Hammond, Ind. For nearly 10 years, this building has made it a regular practice to incorporate native and indigenous plants and shrubs into the landscaping. The plantings are heartier and last longer, as they are more adaptive to the weather conditions in northwest Indiana. This focus on vegetation helps GSA save money by requiring less maintenance and using less fertilizer and water, while maintaining our commitment to sustainability.

Additionally, when GSA completed construction at the Nathaniel R. Jones Federal Building and Courthouse in Youngstown, Ohio, in 2002, we transformed more than an acre of pavement into a more natural, prairie-like area. The prairie design, primarily populated by native and wildflower species, contributes to a sustainable landscape design. This provides improved stormwater management and an enhanced habitat within the city’s urban core, and requires less watering than a traditional landscape.

The efforts in Hammond and Youngstown have started to spread across the Region. At the Chicago Federal Center, making the switch to native plants have helped save $1 million. Other federal buildings, including the Patrick V. McNamara Federal Building in Detroit, have also integrated green and sustainable landscaping.

We’ve also made an effort to plant perennials rather than annuals, as that creates long-lasting landscapes that require less maintenance. Many buildings have moved to drip irrigation systems, which keeps the soil moist without losing water to evaporation. Moisture sensors have also been installed in landscape beds to measure the amount of moisture in the ground to avoid over-watering, helping to save water and keep plants healthy. By using these practices across our region, our landscapes support the natural beauty of their surroundings, while also creating a sustainable space.

Take a look at this photo gallery to see how the Great Lakes Region is incorporating green and sustainable landscaping across the Midwest, and how we’re making sustainability an integral part of our federal buildings.

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