STORES Magazine - June 2008 - (Page 42)

WORTH WATCHING / WATER MANAGEMENT Irrigation Innovation Web-based system keeps businesses green by watering less BY D. GAIL FLEENOR damage. E ffectively maintaining landscaping can be problematic for retailers using typical irrigation controllers. Little more than timers, these regulators can overwater, leading to higher utility costs and possible property The WeatherTRAK ET Everywhere system schedules irrigation based on individual landscaping needs and weather conditions gathered wirelessly from more than 17,000 weather stations. The system saves money, keeps landscaping green and supports the environment by reducing water usage. “Water has become the oil of the 21st century,” says Chris Spain, CEO of HydroPoint Data Systems, the Petaluma, Calif.-based maker of WeatherTRAK. Spain has visited a variety of customers, from big-box retailers and shopping malls to multi-family housing units, that were doing a great job with efficiencies inside their buildings while the landscaping irrigation was largely ignored. He cites statistics showing that 58 percent of all urban water use goes to outdoor irrigation, with waste ranging from 30 to 300 percent. “There is incredible waste and exposure to liability,” he says. “When landscaping is overwatered, it doesn’t just destroy your property but also your neighbor’s. There is a compounded effect. We provide an easy way to monitor what can be a runaway expense item.” Specific plants and trees on individual properties are also taken into consideration by WeatherTRAK, as is the infiltration rate of each property. “We ask about the soil on each property so that we will know the speed and amount of water to apply to limit runoff,” Spain says. The web-based application can remotely manage hundreds of properties across the country; data is downloaded 42 STORES / JUNE 2008 from more than 17,000 weather stations to finetune irrigation timing. “On sheer output of data, we are the thirdlargest weather service,” Spain says. “We calculate down to six miles for anywhere in the United States to determine weather at a customer’s site. We make sure that we understand the altitude, WEATHERTRAK SUBSCRIBERS SAVED: 6.7 billion 26.9 billion gallons of water watt-hours of power elevation, hardscape, plantings and area temperature through modeling of our client’s properties.” Over the next 12 months, the system will add more dashboard alerts and alarms, as requested by customers. The network of WeatherTRAK subscribers has grown from 145 in 2000 to 14,306 today. Last year, 13,000 WeatherTRAK subscribers saved 6.7 billion gallons of water and 26.9 billion watthours of power and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 36 million pounds – the equivalent of planting nearly 752,000 trees. LEED certification Spain points to Kohl’s, a WeatherTRAK customer, and says that, in addition to reducing its water bills, the company is “avoiding hardscape costs such as resurfacing, avoiding plant replacement and mold due to overwatering and receiving a rapid payback and return on investment.” After experiencing average per-store savings of 30 percent on water bills, Kohl’s now specifies that all new stores use WeatherTRAK. The system is expected to help Kohl’s earn the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for 70 stores opening this year. Jack in the Box restaurants reported water savings of 47 percent within two months of installing WeatherTRAK at its San Diego headquarters. Water authorities in several states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, Texas, Utah and Washington, offer rebates for water conservation programs: many WeatherTRAK customers use those rebates to help fund the installation. “Companies don’t just save water, they actually brand their company as a water hero,” Spain says. “There is value in saving water. We find that it is a win/win situation for businesses, because using WeatherTRAK is the right thing to do environmentally and the StORES right business thing to do.” D. Gail Fleenor, a Virginia-based freelance business writer, has nearly 20 years experience in retail and consumer research. WWW.STORES.ORG http://WWW.STORES.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of STORES Magazine - June 2008

STORES Magazine - June 2008
Executive Editor's Page
President's Page
Tesco Tests Carbon Labels
What Shoppers Think
10 Things You May Have Missed
Numbers Worth Counting
Full Price/Markdown
Retail People
Cover Story: Boom - or Bust
Green Retailing
Online Marketing
Building Traffic
Water Management
Digital Marketing
Loyalty Programs
Special Report: Taking on Teens
Supply Chain - Robo Crop
Human Resources
Supply Chain - Directory Assistance
Loeb Retail Letter
ARTS Update
Point of View
NRF News
Retail Crossword
Retail Industry Calendar
Last Laugh

STORES Magazine - June 2008