Let Your Actions Speak: Communicating Sustainability to Customers - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Let Your Actions Speak: Communicating Sustainability to Customers

It makes sense for sustainability and/or environmental stewardship to be a high priority for lawn and landscape companies but sometimes implementing and messaging this value can be an obstacle.

Many companies in various industries declare they are green but not all of them put much action behind it. Mariani Landscape says sustainability is not just a buzzword for them.

“Let your actions speak for themselves,” says Nate Birch, VP of maintenance sales for Mariani. “Of course, you can promote being green on social media, but actions speak louder than words. For example, when the entire community is talking about our robotic mowers popping up all over town, or the electric riding mowers being used at the local ball fields, servicing multiple sites in a neighborhood on the same day to minimize, or the paperless invoicing we have implemented at a rapid rate…the conversations usually continue from there.”

If you want sustainability to be one of your company’s core values, Birch advises backing it up and prove to customers that your are actively and continuously striving for that.

Evaluating Operations

Birch says the company reviews their operations on a daily, weekly, monthly and annual basis. Any time they identify an area that could use improvement they work to make that change a reality.

The company implements robotic mowers on a number of sites.
Photo: Mariani Landscape

“Our management team works very hard to introduce new procedures that benefit our associates, our clients, and our community,” Birch says. “We do not subscribe to doing things a certain way just because that’s the way they’ve always been done. We will continuously look for opportunities to improve.”

Mariani has a sustainability committee in place to help guide those decisions and they meet on a monthly basis. They weigh the pros and cons of making a change and cost is just one aspect of that.

“For example, we continue to increase the number of Automowers performing grass cutting at client sites,” Birch says. “When the site conditions warrant or when the client agrees with our recommendation – we make the use of autonomous mowing an easy decision for our client. Employee/client satisfaction is often more heavily weighted in that process. Our feeling is that if we are doing things the right way, good things will come back to us.”

Sustainability in the Office

Birch says Mariani prides themselves on being an industry leader in every category they compete in and they do their best to do it right.

Mariani works to source local plant materials whenever feasible and includes native plant species in designs.
Photo: Mariani Landscape

“We are a part of the communities where we work, and we take that responsibility seriously,” he says. “We are continuously looking for ways to be as efficient as possible with our crew routings, with recycling practices, and by constantly upgrading equipment and technology. Sustainability is a natural part of that planning.”

Some of the current sustainable practices Mariani implements in the office include a full conversion to T8 lighting including new ballast & fixtures in the company’s shop, back building and warehouse areas. They also use LED lighting fixtures. Mariani has lighting and fan timers in numerous areas.

The company uses dedicated paper capturing and shredding services for offices.

Additionally, all waste oils and service fluids are collected and recycled. Certain chemicals are then reused in different secondary applications extending the beneficial impact of the recycling activities.

Sustainability in the Field

Meanwhile out in the field, Mariani has a multitude of practices that help with resource conservation and stewardship of the land.

The company collects, retains and recycles yard waste for redeployment as leaf mulch. While the other yard waste that isn’t processed and reused are taken to a local composting facility.

Fleet-wise, Mariani uses 11 percent bio-diesel in all diesel equipment and their new trucks employ automatic engine shut-down technology. Their existing trucks are maintained to ensure efficient and factory operating standards for specified emissions levels and longer vehicle life cycles. Mariani optimizes their routes and deploys larger crews per vehicles as well.

Mariani’s native areas team conducts a controlled prairie burn.
Photo: Mariani Landscape

Mariani works to source local plant materials whenever feasible and includes native plant species in designs. Displaced materials from renovations are reused in other suitable applications and projects when applicable.

“My hope is that a client ultimately chooses Mariani Landscape because they are as passionate about their landscape as we are, and they want the best,” Birch says. “We are flexible in our service offerings and will tailor the right program for individual client needs. Whatever we can do to help make a client’s decision easier, we will figure out how to make it work for them. And, when we can do our work with as minimal a footprint as possible, we feel good about that!”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.