Manhattan Beach Patch Newspaper Sustainability Summit

Residents Learn About Sustainability at Summit

Participants at Sunday’s event at Manhattan Beach City Hall learn about the benefits of native plants, drip irrigation and other ways they can help protect the environment.

Some 70 people filled the seats at a City Hall meeting room for the 2010 Sustainability Summit on Sunday. The summit, which ran in conjunction with the city’s Eco-Fair and was part of a global initiative to reduce carbon emissions, featured presentations about ways South Bay residents can lead a more environmentally friendly life.

Several of the panel discussions were dedicated to water conservation through landscaping. Mike Garcia, founder of the eco-friendly landscaping company Enviroscape, was on hand to talk about the benefits of using California native plants in a home garden.

These plants use little water, Garcia explained, and because water companies are likely to continue raising their rates, these drought-tolerant natives make financial sense.

Garcia suggested gardeners use drip irrigation systems, which water only the roots of a plant rather than spraying the leaves, thus reducing water that is lost to evaporation from the sun. He then invited attendees to take a look at the drip irrigation system that his company installed in front of City Hall.

Another speaker, landscaper and author Bob Perry offered a “quantitative evaluation and assessment” of how much energy one could save by landscaping with native plants.

From a computer, Perry called up a slide which displayed on the meeting room’s screens and detailed a case study on the 10-year growth of a coastal garden. According to Perry, the garden had produced 1,000 pounds of biomass — or plant growth — had filtered 500 pounds of carbon from the atmosphere and released 1,000 pounds of oxygen back out into the atmosphere over the 10-year span.

“You can also translate that biomass into energy,” Perry said. “This is the unit of measurement that really is universal in telling us whether we are achieving sustainability.”

There are energy costs associated with maintaining the garden, Perry said, which include watering the garden about six or seven times a year, driving service vehicles to the site and using power tools for edging, clipping and blowing the trimmings.

“We discover in this regard here that this landscape by comparison is looking very sustainable,” said Perry.

When compared with a climate-adaptive species of household lawn, Perry’s coastal landscape remains sustainable for 8 more years — about 12.7 total — before maintenance costs begin exceeding the benefits.

“For those of you think [sustainable landscaping] means brown and ugly, come to my place, because all year long we have something in bloom,” said Joe Galliani, South Bay Bicycle Coalition board member and a Patch contributor.

Landscaping with drought-tolerant plants wasn’t the only suggestion Galliani offered for helping the environment during his presentation. He also said South Bay residents should take these steps to reduce their carbon footprints: ride a bike; install solar panels on their homes; energy retrofit their houses; eat less meat; buy an electric car; use mass transportation; shop at farmers markets and cut their waste. Galliani especially urged audience members to get involved in groups working to protect the planet.

“We live in a hotbed of environmental activism and advocacy,” he said. “There’s no shortage of things for you to do.”


Mike Garcia
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Owner of Enviroscape Landscaping in Los Angeles, California