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Green Practices for Parks & Open Space

The Parks, Open Space and Public Facilities Division is responsible for the operations and maintenance of many of the city's facilities including, parks and greenways, golf courses and the city's buildings. As such we take a thoughtful approach to both the short term and long term impacts and solutions of our maintenance practices. Over time, we have adopted a "Triple Bottom Line " approach to our strategies and decisions in order to balance cost factors, with both environmental and societal impacts. This way of thinking takes into consideration responsible use of tax payers dollars, fair and beneficial business practices and sound environmental stewardship. This approach is intended to yield long term, sustainable solutions for the city.

The following is a partial list of current practices. For more information, please contact Don Bessler .

Link to Greenway, District Park and Open space maintenance practices

Green Practice Quick Links to more information below:


Green Practices

Green Practice

Environmental Impact

Societal Impact

Financial Impact





Use untreated water

Less energy cost to treat water where not needed

Landscape irrigation needs met in more sustainable way

Saves water treatment cost

Use Variable Frequency Drives on irrigation pump motors

Decreased electrical consumption and extended life of pumps and motors

City stewardship of electrical utilities

Cost reduction in overall seasonal electrical consumption

New development code:  Low water irrigation equipment

Lower water and energy costs

Promotes stewardship of landscaped areas

Long term water cost savings. Component cost nearly the same

Use of automated irrigation controllers with satellite central control and weather stations

Allows for system wide adjustment or shut down of systems to account for natural precipitation

Reduces unnecessary or excessive over watering

Conserves limited water resources

Check all components of the system for proper function

All irrigation systems are checked and repaired weekly for leaks and malfunctions

Saves water

Saves costs & is good water management

Zoned irrigation – separate zones for native and turf grass, shrub beds and as needed for microclimates and slope of ground

Lower water and energy costs

Promotes stewardship of landscaped areas

Long term water cost savings.  May have higher cost for more valves and piping

Landscape and Site Construction

Specify water conserving turf species

Drought tolerant turf used for irrigated areas - up to 60% water savings.  Native grasses used where appropriate on greenways and in low-use areas of parks

Land stewardship modeling.  Native grasses in urban landscape provides model of what is suitable for the area

Savings in water/ maintenance costs.  Higher installation cost for some types of water conserving sod.  Lower cost of installation for native grasses

Adopted City standards for drought tolerant plantings on public projects – Design for Xeriscaping!

Reduce turf areas where possible, use water-thrifty plant materials which lessens water use

The City models to its citizens of how to reduce water use.  Examples of beautiful xeric landscapes is a resource of ideas for the public

Additional cost for more shrubs vs. turf is supported by financial incentives from Water dept. in some cases

Design with wildlife in mind.  Create buffer areas and strips along greenways as wildlife corridors (between water and trail)

Use native grasses and plantings that have good forage or shelter for wildlife

Maintains wildlife corridors through the City which enhances watchable wildlife opportunities

Less water and mowing needed to care for native plantings

Use landscaped Bio Swales where possible

Used for pre-treatment of storm water prior to release into streams.  Wetland plants clean pollutants such as heavy metals found in storm waters

Provides clean downstream water for public consumption and wildlife habitat.

Generally, cost of bio-swale is less than constructed ponds.

Automated Airport runway lighting system

Airfield lights are now pilot controlled which allows for the lights to be on only when needed and shut off automatically after 10 minutes

Reduces C02 emissions and amount of electricity consumed
Reduces maintenance and extends life of lighting system

Saves approximately $2500 per year in utility charges and $2000 per year in maintenance fees

Use motion detection lighting controls in new projects

Longer bulb life results in less landfill and lowers utility demands

Provides lighting only when needed for public use

Savings associated with reduced electrical usage

Increase tree canopy

More information link

Current canopy removes and stores nearly 63,000 tons of C02 and sequesters nearly 490 tons per year

Quality of life: cooler environment, enhances air flow through city and beautification

Health benefits: reduced air pollution aids respiratory diseases; improved water quality enhances overall health

Environmental benefits:

storm water quality improvement and quantity reduction and wildlife habitat enhancement

Current value of C02 removal from existing tree canopy is nearly $250,000 per year savings. Combined with stormwater and water quality benefits, combined savings of over $8.4 million!

Increased tree canopy can create significant further savings

Landscape Maintenance




Practice “Grasscycling” -
Natural recycling of grass by leaving clippings on the lawn when mowing.

Clippings quickly decompose
adding soil nutrients,
saves time & money (less mowing time &
provides free fertilizer).
Produces healthy & green lawns,
reduces fertilizer needs,
reduces water use,
reduces storm drainage runoff,
reduces landscape waste in landfills

Lawns can generate as much as 6 1/2 tons per acre each year! Based on the acreage of developed parks and golf courses approximately 5200 tons of clippings are diverted from landfills by City facilities alone! The City can model good stewardship and educate our community about the benefits of grasscycling and the detriments associated with them disposing of their clippings curbside

Saves significant funds from operationally having to handle the clippings a second or third time including transportation costs

New native vegetation maintenance standards

Longer grasses and plants with forage and shelter for wildlife assist with water conservation and benefit wildlife

Increased awareness of greenways as native wildlife corridors and education as to what plants are suitable for wildlife habitat

Lower maintenance costs from less mowing and less water used for irrigation

Improve soil by top dressing with compost

Soil retains water better and creates healthier lawns if it has organic material added

More use can take place on healthy lawns

Reduces cost of water and fertilizer

Fall leaf mulching in grass areas

Reduces the amount of green waste in landfills.  Will quickly decompose and improve the soil

Provides a healthier and more attractive lawns

Saves labor, time and transportation costs

Practice Integrated Pest Management

Utilizes environmentally sound approaches to pest management and reduces or eliminates the amount and toxicity of chemical treatments

Provides a safer and cleaner environment

Reduces the cost of grounds maintenance chemicals and fertilizers





Materials Selections




Use recycled car tires for playground surfacing

Diverts tires from landfills while providing safety surfacing

City leadership role in using recycled products

Grants are available to reduce cost

Use durable materials – also now required by City Code

Concrete, masonry and steel promote long term use and ability to withstand heavy public use and vandalism

Provides facilities that are attractive and don’t require closure for repair or reconstruction on a frequent basis

Costs vary but are more expensive initially. Durability delays replacement needs

Use Green Seal Certified paper products in public buildings

100% recycled materials for paper.  Post consumer waste minimum requirements are 40% for roll towels and 20% for tissue products.
1.  Use of 100% recycled materials saves an estimated 4,100 kilowatt hours of energy, 7,000 gallons of water, and 60 pounds of air pollutants & effluents per ton. Paper products made entirely from recovered materials keep more used paper from the waste stream and out of our landfills. Post-consumer materials include any item that has been used by consumers for its intended purpose and would other wise be sent to landfills.  Our paper products contain up to 79% post consumer.
2.  Having paper products that are free from elemental and processed chlorine keep chemicals such as chlorine dioxide or chlorine gas from going into the environment - these can be harmful to aquatic life and wildlife as highly dangerous chemicals such as dioxins can be released when chlorine or its derivatives are used in manufacturing towels and tissue.
3.  Since most product packaging ends up in the waste stream, how the product is packaged is important.  Green seal standards address source reduction by outlining minimum square feet requirements for bath and facial tissue products to reduce waste.  Including recycled or recyclable material in product packaging also aids in environmental stewardship.  Green Seal standards instruct that cores in the roll towels and bath tissue as well as the box for facial tissue be made from 100% recycled materials.  In addition, packaging cannot contain or be printed with toxic metals or other harmful chemicals including lead, cadmium,
mercury, and hexavalent chromium in excess of 100 parts per million.

Products are available for purchase through local vendors; are manufactured domestically; reduces city’s overall cost to provide this service thereby freeing up funds for other community uses.
1.  Healthier work environment can reduce employee absenteeism and can improve productivity and quality of products created.
2.  Healthier employees can have a positive impact on company medical
insurance and premium costs
3.  By using a green product you improve worker morale, which in turn improves productivity and health.    Note: that, in most buildings, operating expenses amount to less than 10% of an organization’s cost structure, while personnel comprise the other 90% or so. Even small improvements in worker conditions can yield big dividends in “productivity improvements, reduced turnover and
absenteeism and other business benefits.”
4.  Public use of specific products provides role model and information to the public at large.

New programs results in a 15% cost savings to the city annually.
1.  Green cleaning changes the traditional purchasing criteria from just
performance and cost, and focuses on achieving the best value for the facility.  This changes the purchasing equation from the lowest initial
cost to one that, in addition to performance and cost, considers product
usage, training requirements, impact on worker and occupant health and
safety and environmental impacts.

Use Green Seal Certified custodial cleaning chemicals & supplies

Cleaning products results in less toxic pollution and waste, conserves resources and habitats, and minimizes global warming and ozone depletion

1. Provides a healthier work environment for the employee, reduces absenteeism turnover rate and increases productivity
2.  Healthier employees can have a positive impact on company medical
insurance and premium costs
3. Public use of specific products provides role model and information to the public at large

New program results in a small cost savings to the city annually

Replace custodial floor scrubbers, with LEED Certified equipment at replacement

F.A.S.T. cleaning process uses 70% less water and 90% less chemicals, increasing the environmental sustainability for the City

1. Eliminates the need for the employees to handle and measure chemicals, which reduces health risks to the employee

2. Reduces the over all cost of chemicals, the issues on the employee using the incorrect dilution rate and the labor to scrub floors

3. Equipment uses Green Seal certified chemicals which is an environmentally friendly cleaning product and reduces the impact on environment

4. The equipment is 75% quieter then the older equipment, creating less noise pollution

New program results in chemical and labor savings to the city annually

Use compostable food service items, i.e. paper cups, wood stir sticks

Carbon foot print is reduced; materials are diverted from landfills and into compostable materials for soil amending

Demonstrates an effort by the City and employees to be environmental stewards of the earth and its resources

New program results in a small cost to the City

Airport service roads built with recycled materials

Re-use of recycled asphalt and concrete reduces waste material going to land fill and provides good road surface

Reduces C02 emissions from asphalt and concrete plants and avoids unnecessary waste product

Saves approximately $1500 from elimination of asphalt patching

Waste Disposal




Unique staff designed and fabricated dog bag waste dispensers for reuse of plastic bags

Helps eliminate pet waste in City parks.  The use of recycled bags provides a "second use" for these bags

Responsible pet owners use bags for their pets and provide excess bags to restock public areas

Prior cost was $7000/ yr for dispensers and bags.  Current cost with new dispensers is less than $4.00 and the bags are provided by the public for free

Use recycling bins in new parks

Promotes recycling for cans, glass and steel

Lessens landfill space and recycles material for reuse

Additional trash receptacles with recycling logo is approximately $350 / can but saves in landfill costs long-term

Use covered trash

Reduce attraction to scavengers and rain water pollution

Reduces pollution of ground water and trash dispersal

Cost neutral

Recycled motor oil from the public and other agencies is used to heat the Facilities Maintenance shop (also see Buildings)

No natural gas resources to heat that building

Reduces the amount of waste oil disposed and is free source of heat for the FMS building

Reduced natural gas utility costs.

Recycle all used airplane oil

Publicly donated oil is used as heating oil for snow plow shop areas

Reduces the amount of waste oil disposed

$0. No impact to the Airport. This is a free service









Use of Building Automation controls for HVAC systems

Limits need for over time utilities where feasible to lower run time and add to the life expectancy of equipment.

Positive and efficient use of public funds

Reduce utility costs.

Use of motion detection lighting controls in new projects

Longer bulb life results in less landfill and lowers utility demands

Positive and efficient use of public funds

Savings from reduced electrical consumption

Capital boiler replacements - use of staged systems


Lower BTU’s to sustain comfort during mild ambient temps resulting in less natural gas demand and use.


Positive and efficient use of public funds and customers are affected by less down time when repairs are necessary.


Reduced natural gas utility costs

Adoption of a Thermal Comfort Standard

Energy consumption is reduced when HVAC equipment operates in the range that is necessary to keep people comfortable

Regulated exhaust emissions are reduced when HVAC equipment operates in the range that is deemed necessary to keep people comfortable

Energy costs are reduced when HVAC equipment operates in the range that is deemed necessary to keep people comfortable

Use hot water pressure wash to clean condenser coils on open roof systems


Eliminates storm water pollution, improved preventative maintenance and more efficient operations of equipment

Positive and efficient use of public funds

Reduce needed chemical funding

Use recycled motor oil to heat maintenance shop

(See Waste Disposal)

(See Waste Disposal)

(See Waste Disposal)

Harvest natural light


Reduces electric use in municipal facilities

Reduces exhaust emissions from electric generation

Reduces the amount of money spent on utilities





Electric Golf Car Fleets

Eliminates gasoline use and emissions  

Reduces fossil fuel use and improves air quality

Less expensive to operate

Hybrid Vehicles

Increases the miles driven per amount of fuel and decreases related tailpipe emissions

Conserves fossil fuel resources, reduced tailpipe emissions

Decreases the amount of money spent on fuel

Purchase smaller vehicles when possible, ie, 1 ton vs 5 yard trucks

Lowers fuel costs

Conserves fossil fuel resources and lowers CO2 in atmosphere

Less cost for vehicle at purchase, lower on-going fuel costs