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THE DISPATCH

Landscape Development News WINTER 2011

GREEN INDUSTRY MARKET FORECAST


TOM DONNELLY, ASLA, IS PRESIDENT OF VALLEYCREST LANDSCAPE DEVELOPMENT. HE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR AN EXTENSIVE BRANCH NETWORK THAT WHILE INTERNATIONAL IN SCALE IS CAPABLE OF DELIVERING AN ARRAY OF INTEGREATED LANDSCAPE DEVELOPMENT SERVICES AT THE LOCAL LEVEL. TOM ALSO DIRECTS ACTIVITIES OF THE DIVISIONS PRECONSTRUCTION SERVICES AND DESIGN-BUILD. Q: What are your overall views of the industrys current and future challenges? A: Certainly, theres been a tightening of the belt and companies are honing in on their core competencies, focusing on the geographic regions most important to them and delivering quality work in the most efficient and cost-effective way. The economy is fragile and until a substantial number of people get back to work there is going to be a limited need for the kind of projects we have seen over the last decade being developed and built. Frankly, I expect the outlook for our industry for the next few years to be very challenging at best. Q: How has ValleyCrest responded to the conditions? A: ValleyCrest began anticipating a slowdown back in 2008 and our leadership team proactively took steps to prepare. By continuing to operate with sound business fundamentals, weve adjusted and adapted. The nature of the landscape business allows us to flex staffing and, in some cases, shift teams to where the work is or regionalize teams in markets that are slower.

WHY SKIMP ON IRRIGATION?

The recession topped with an increase in activity in the green movement has forced us to refine the way in which we do business. Better pricing, faster time-to-market, sustainable development? Check, check and check. But in these times when cutting costs matters most, were also forced to cut corners, sometimes opting for the second best to save our bottom line. One of the most common landscape corners cut during development? Irrigation systems. But weve got news thats hard to swallow: the cost of accessing, treating and delivering water year by year is on the rise, and that trend is not expected to slow anytime soon. If you skimp on the irrigation going into the ground today, youll pay a lot more for your overall landscape plan tomorrow, and will likely have to upgrade to more efficient systems as water restrictions increase. THINK AHEADTHE ABCS OF SMART IRRIGATION: Agencies: Be a driver in adopting smart water management practices. Whether youre a developer, architect, engineer, landscape architect, property manager or tenant, build a bond with your local agency to help you make more financially sound decisions. Beware of Overwatering: We all have a tendency to over water landscapes. A weather-based drip irrigation system is a real-world solution that encourages water conservation. While expensive upfront, drip irrigation systems with smart, weather-based controllers lower irrigation water usage on average 24 percent a year.

Though were hearing demand is building to get projects kicked off, were not seeing activity in the development sector to support that notion. Many of our customers are making upgrades to existing sites so weve set a strong focus on sustainable upgrades, water management programs, retrofits, long-term maintenance services and more attractive warranties. Weve also found ways to reduce our overhead in order to cut costs for our customers so were an even better equipped team. Were practicing maximum efficiency, operating more safely and encouraging professional development to serve customers even better once the economy improves.

Q: What specific trends or areas of focus is the company keeping top of mind? A: We are closely tracking what property occupiers demand in an effort to help our customers put their properties at a competitive advantage. We have found the approach helps find solutions that save time, maximize capital investment or deliver more value to tenants. Were hearing a good deal about a need for flexibility and sustainability as well as the growing need to provide access and connectivity to workplaces and living spaces which support community well-being, safety and self-sufficiency. Q: What areas of focus in regard to landscape best practices would you encourage your customers and referral partners to keep top of mind? A: Were encouraging landscape design-build. Its a process which helps everyone understand project goals and costs early on, expediting the program, delivering great design and establishing smarter development. Public entities are being asked to provide a wider array of services and amenities to serve as many sectors of their communities as possible and we think the design-build delivery method offers distinct advantages for those projects. The result is practical, visually appealing and readily available. People are able to enjoy these facilities sooner than if the traditional design-bid-build process was used. Q: Are there any final words of advice or insight to share? A: Heres a thought to consider thats been under the radar so far, but is worth noting. The nursery industry has experienced one of its roughest gorounds over the past 18 months. Today, plant material is plentiful but there is a real concern down road that as the market recovers there will be severe constraints on the supply side. Since nurseries arent selling product today theyve scaled back what theyre growing, too, and that will have an impact in the future ability of nurseries to meet demand since the natural growth cycle of a tree is typically longer than economic cycles.

Cisterns: Reduce your reliance on city water and up your chances of qualifying for LEED certification. Capture rainwater runoff by incorporating a cistern or rain garden into your project. Recycle harvested water to irrigate your landscape or for other non-potable uses.

Incorporating a well-planned irrigation program on your project is proven to maximize every dollar spent on your landscape.

FOUR TIPS ON IMPROVING RELATIONSHIPS WITH WATER AGENCIES


1. Set an appointment with your local water agency to learn about rebate programs available. 2. Attend water management training provided by water agencies. 3. Invite the agency to conduct a water audit on your new project or existing property. 4. Explain the challenges you encounter promoting water management so the agency understands day-to-day management and challenges.

Q U I C K L I N K S
ValleyCrest in the News

POINT OF VIEW: THE ADDED VALUE OF COLLABORATIVE TEAMS


SHARE RESOURCES AND THOUGHT LEADERSHIP WITH OTHER PROJECT PLAYERS, REFERRAL PARTNERS, VENDORS AND CONSULTANTS FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR PROJECT.

There are many factors that impact cost and scheduling on your projecttiming, market activity, the volatility and availability of key materialsall of which are difficult to predict. Lack of information or late awareness often leads to design revisions which compromise production milestones, purchasing power and level of finish.

THE DOLLARS AND SENSE OF YOUR PROJECT Save money and shorten turnaround time on your projects development. Look beyond your typical team of consultants and instead opt for a collaborative team comprised of key project contacts, referral partners, consultants and specialized vendors. By establishing a team of individuals with complementary skill sets, youll achieve better and more robust solutions for your project. Get everyone on your team involved in the formative stages of design and development so that pricing, purchasing and logistics become more efficient as individual design elements pan out.

A DETAILED PLAN FOR YOUR SUCCESS Every project is unique and theres no single approach to selecting or implementing your collaborative team.

SOME AREAS OF YOUR PROJECT TO CONSIDER WHERE COLLABORATIVE TEAMS WILL WORK BEST:

BUDGETING understand your construction costs early COST ANALYSIS make informed design decisions SCHEDULE ANALYSIS job planning and sequencing to meet constraints COORDINATION integrate multiple disciplines that may impact schedule or aesthetic ADVANCED PROCUREMENT purchase early to avoid lead time issues MAINTENANCE PLANNING make informed design decisions for the long-term SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT integrate multiple disciplines to gain industry knowledge LEED CERTIFICATION analysis and calculations in support of site-related LEED points DESIGN-ASSIST OR DESIGN-BUILD adaptable to various project delivery systems

ValleyCrest Landscape Development | ph 818.737.3154 | 24151 Ventura Boulevard | Calabasas, CA 91302