30 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / September 2022 ELEMENTS Landscape Design SLC Initiative: Water Conservation Collaboration at Work I n 2015, then-Governor John Hickenloop- er directed the Colorado Water Conser- vation Board to create the first compre- hensive Colorado Water Plan. This document is being updated and set for final release in early 2023. It serves as the state’s framework for solutions to Colorado’s water challenges exac- erbated by climate change and ongoing drought throughout the Western U.S. One of the major tenets of the Colorado Water Plan is active collaboration by different entities to conserve our most precious natural resource – water. In this collaborative spirit Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado and Cen- terra, a 3,000-acre master planned community in Loveland, worked together and designated Centerra as the state’s first Sustainable Land- scape Community. The community’s new des- ignation recognizes its commitment to water conservation and sustainability. ALCC, Colorado’s largest green professional trade association, created the Sustainable Land- scape Community initiative to educate public and private landscape professionals on water-conserv- ing, sustainable landscape management principles. SLMguidelines are based on best management prac- tices, which systematically reduce water consump- tion andplant loss in landscapes. The guidelines also encourage the use of plants indigenous to Colorado or acclimated to Colorado’s dry and harsh climate. SLC recognizes large water users, including mas- ter planned and homeowner association communi- ties, commercial properties/sites and retail proper- ties for using sustainable landscape maintenance practices. This initiative can serve as a blueprint for all large water users to reduce the amount of water they use outdoors. Sustainable landscapes are responsive to the envi- ronment, regenerative and can actively contribute to healthy communities. Sustainable landscapes se- quester carbon, clean the air and water, increase en- ergy efficiency, reduce the heat island effect, attract pollinators and provide wildlife habitat. Manicured turf areas are not sustainable landscapes – native/ xeric landscapes are. The Centerra community, designed and developed by local real estate developer and investment group McWhinney, was built on the belief that nature pro- vides the perfect balance to urban planning. Center- ra not only cut its water use significantly through ongoing sustainable practices, but the developer and its partners (High Plains Environmental Cen- ter and the Centerra Metropolitan District, which is managed by Pinnacle Consulting Group) are also realizing major cost savings when thoughtful de- sign and practices are put into place annually. Cen- terra is finalizing a report that is the culmination of two years of studying test plots of various drought tolerant turf grasses managed by the High Plains Environmental Center. The early indication leads to buffalo grass and Dog Tuff™ grass as being very promising. This study will direct Centerra’s commu- nity landscape design approach moving forward. In 2020, the costs of installing, maintaining and watering a native landscape were compared to those for manicured turf. Centerra discovered its utility (primarily water) costs for native landscaped areas were an incredible 20 times less than those for manicured turf. In addition to replacing and plant- ing new drought tolerant turf areas, Centerra has also targeted replacing annual flower beds with pe- rennials to maintain color in the landscape through a more sustainable approach. Now is the time to reduce water use through long- term, sustainable commitments and answer the call to action for collaboration in Colorado’s Water Plan. If you represent or work with a large water user, consider joining the Sustainable Landscape Com- munity initiative and getting employees certified in Sustainable LandscapeManagement practices. More information is available at \\ John McMahon CEO, Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado Kim Perry Vice President of Community Design& Neighborhood Development, McWhinney Sustainable landscapes sequester carbon, clean the air and water, increase energy efficiency, reduce the heat island effect, attract pollinators and provide wildlife habitat.