River-Friendly Landscaping Calculator Adds New Benefits for Sacramento

River-Friendly Benefits CalculatorSept. 24, 2013, Sacramento, CA: Sacramento County is promoting “River-Friendly Landscaping” as a way for residents and businesses to beautify the county while saving water, energy, and money, and even reduce their carbon footprint. Last year the County partnered with the nonprofit Pacific Institute to create an online app to help people estimate the benefits of choosing “river-friendly” plants and practices. Now version 2.0 has been released, featuring dozens of new features and enhancements, including a database of nearly 2,000 plants, complete with pictures and water requirements, to help people to garden and landscape in beautiful and more eco-friendly ways.

Residents are invited to calculate their “green inspiration level” with the River-Friendly Landscaping Calculator and enter the “Aspire to be River-Friendly Contest,” submitting photos or a story online by September 30 to enter to win a $500 Green Acres gift card and be recognized as Sacramento’s River-Friendly Landscape winner. Details are at www.riverfriendly.com.

The River-Friendly Landscape Benefits Calculator is an easy-to-use online tool that walks you through simple steps to describe your landscape and maintenance practices. You can also see how your landscape compares to a conservation-minded river-friendly landscape or a more traditional landscape that is mostly lawn, in terms of water needs, green waste production, greenhouse gas emissions, costs, labor, and maintenance.

“The calculator has thousands of plant suggestions for every landscape in the Sacramento area, many of which are natives that require little watering – so it is easy to see how you can have a beautiful garden and at the same time really cut your water bill,” said Matthew Heberger of the Pacific Institute, who developed the online calculator. “And when you save water, you save energy – and when you save energy there are lower greenhouse gas emissions. The calculator tells you how much is saved on both fronts, as well as the cost and labor benefit of choosing river-friendly practices and plants.”

River-Friendly Landscaping is a holistic approach to landscaping that works with nature to reduce waste and prevent pollution and support the integrity of one of California’s key ecosystems, the Sacramento River Watershed. The River-Friendly Landscape Benefits Calculator, with its expanded plant database, can be used as a design tool, as well as to see the level of resources current plantings require.

“The great thing is everyone knows that they can save water with river-friendly plants, but they don’t realize that by choosing eco-friendly landscaping they are also lowering their carbon footprint,” said Heberger. “There are real, tangible benefits for California communities that are trying to reduce emissions and meet greenhouse-gas reduction goals.”

“Our calculator is for homeowners, landscape professionals, developers, and anyone else who wants to see how much water, time, and money they can save by creating a river-friendly landscape or changing or maintaining an existing landscape in a more sustainable way,” said Dana Booth, Stormwater Quality Program Manager for Sacramento County. “And since it takes a lot of energy to deliver clean water, saving water saves energy. Recycling green waste on site rather than hauling it to a landfill or remote composting site saves energy, too. When you see these savings calculated, it’s a real eye-opener, and a great reason to use river-friendly principles in your landscaping!”

The Pacific Institute is a resource for other communities interested in creating a Landscape Benefits Calculator that is specific for their own region.

Check out the River-Friendly Landscape Benefits Calculator at www.riverfriendly.com.