The Loews Lake Las Vegas Resort (formerly Hyatt Regency) sits on a 10-acre parcel of lush landscaped grounds featuring a Moroccan theme. It serves as somewhat of a desert oasis in the steamy sands of Henderson, Nev., just outside of Las Vegas. But having such greenery in a hot, arid environment, in a drought-prone region, is a difficult task for the grounds crew.
But that hasn’t stopped them from not only cultivating a beautiful landscape, but also responsibly conserving water in an area that desperately needs to do so. With the help of a partnership with ValleyCrest Landscaping Companies, one of the largest landscaping companies in the United States, the Loews’ three-person landscaping crew has created a sustainable landscape at the resort.
The hotel decided it needed to transform its ground due to the water restrictions that often happen in the Las Vegas area. The landscape engineers from ValleyCrest got to work and began replacing the plants with more water-efficient plants.
“What we’ve done is convert quite a few areas from high-water-use plants to low-water-use plants,” says Kevin Mefford, ValleyCrest’s branch manager in Las Vegas. “Can you say [the grounds] are sustainable? Absolutely. It uses less water and it really creates a very distinctive area.
Mefford says the low- water-use plants not only save on water consumption, but also help make the landscape look more attractive. “It’s more suitable for the extreme summer temperatures that we experience in Las Vegas versus the original material that was used on the property,” he says.
The landscape engineers also changed the irrigation controller they used to better suit the extreme conditions.
They also turned to artificial turf for help. The hotel installed artificial turf in some of the high traffic areas of the property, such as the barbecue pavilion and the day care center. “In both of those areas, we’ve converted natural turf to synthetic turf,” Mefford says. “It’s more sustainable. They were having to replace sod in those areas six times per year because the functions the hotel has were just tearing it up.”
By using artificial turf, the hotel also made a significant cut in its water consumption. The Southern Nevada Water Authority estimates that one square foot of turf uses about 79 gallons of water per year in the desert. “By converting that area, we’re saving quite a few gallons of water per year,” Mefford says. “It’s the right thing to do for our valley right now.”
|Waste Not, Grow More
Even fertilizer is ‘green’ these days.
by Len Vermillion
Your hotel grounds can be greener than you ever imagined. All it takes is a little water and some recycled waste from your kitchen.
That’s because landscapers have a new environmentally friendly tool to help the grass grow—recycled fertilizer.
As lodging properties aim to become more sustainable, some are looking past their buildings and to their gardens and lawns. They’re looking at the tons of food waste they produce and either recycling it into organic fertilizer for either their own or others’ uses, or using the fruits of others recycled waste to make their own flower beds sprout up.
Recently, Boston-based Converted Organics, began producing a recycled fertilizer made from food waste that is
diverted from landfills. The company partners with resorts and conference centers in both the United States and the Caribbean to collect some of the 25 million tons of food waste produced in this country. It then turns the waste into the recycled fertilizer and sells it to hospitality properties and other facilities for use on their grounds.
“We take food waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill and recycle it into an all-natural, organic fertilizer,” explains Edward J. Gildea, president of Converted Organics. “For example, we receive the food waste from places such as Asilomar Conference Center in California. We do the same thing with some school systems, where receive the waste from the cafeteria and then we use the fertilizer that we make on the fields and parks in the school system. The idea also works for any hotel or resort property.”
The fertilizer is made using a process called microbial digestion. Once made, it provides a chemical-free, organic fertilizer ready for use.
For many of the organizations using the fertilizer, the benefits have become obvious. According to Ed Schaupp, director of facilities for Asilomar conference grounds, the facility diverts approximately 15 tons of waste from landfills. He says another reward is helping the industry be more sustainable.
Gildea says hotels and resorts can be part of the process in several ways. They can be either a supplier of food waste or a user of the recycled fertilizer, or both. “If they are interested in not using chemical fertilizers on their property, we provide them with an opportunity to use an organic product whether or not we recycle their food waste,” he says. “On the other hand, it they are interested in recycling their food waste, we provide a great opportunity for them to do that whether or not they use our fertilizer.”
The process provides another way, besides composting, to responsibly get rid of food waste. According to Converted Organics, the complex nature of composting often makes large-scale
The recycled fertilizer came into being as the result of a request from City of New York, which was seeking to deal with food waste. Converted Organics, which was formed from the proposal, decided to pursue the endeavor as a business.
Now, the company is able to produce the recycled fertilizer efficiently, and hotels can reap the benefits of a sustainable way to keep their ground environmentally friendly.