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Earth Day is an annual event observed each year on April 22 to highlight support for environmental production. The first Earth Day was held on April 22, 1970. Since then, it has grown to include a wide range of events worldwide, with participants from more than 190 countries. The theme for Earth Day 2021 is Restore the Earth. At Liberty Military Housing, we are taking steps to help restore the earth by using eco-friendly practices such as xeriscaping and installing solar panels. Read on to learn more about our efforts toward a healthier planet!
How does LMH practice an eco-friendly approach to housing?
As a conscientious company and a partner in communities across the country, Liberty Military Housing (LMH) is acutely aware of environmental concerns and the impact of its multifamily housing projects. Our goal is to provide leadership by adopting green practices for all our communities and to reduce the ecological footprint on pollution, global warming, and resource usage.
LMH has several comprehensive recycling programs, including recycling universal waste, e-waste, metals, cardboard, paper, and plastics. A company-wide initiative to recycle organic and landscape waste from our shop and business operations results in fewer materials going to the solid waste stream and filling the landfills.
Xeriscape landscaping and water conservation
Many LMH properties use Xeriscape landscaping, which results in less water usage and more water conservation. Xeriscaping is a type of landscaping explicitly designed for areas susceptible to drought and regions where water conservation is practiced. Water conservation is using water more efficiently to reduce unnecessary water usage. Water conservation is important because fresh, clean water is a limited resource. In California and the rest of the country, residents are strongly encouraged to adopt permanent changes to use water more wisely. Small changes make significant impacts, as with LMH's commitment to Xeriscape landscaping.
Xeriscape landscaping allows our maintenance teams to group various plants with similar water requirements in one area. A common element of xeriscape landscaping is reducing or removing lawn grass areas. Lawn grass is often one of the worst offenders against water consideration. Along with removing lawn grass, xeriscape landscaping features the introduction of native plants since they're best suited for the local climate and often require less human-supplied water. These "xeric" plants, as they're known, are plants that require small amounts of water and handle drought well.
Checo Martinez, Regional Maintenance Director of the SW Navy Region at LMH, says his district's biggest xeriscape focus is in the Murphy Canyon community. In addition to removing existing turf, Martinez and his team have added plenty of river rocks and stepping stones. Native plants like agave and succulents have been added as well, all to reduce water use.
"Our backyard renovations include introducing more desert-like plant material along with stones and mulch that don't need much water," said Martinez.
He and his team are saving water by using water drip systems in place of spray heads.
"When you spray with a hose or sprinkler head, you lose a lot of water depending on the air quality. A drip saves up to 80% of that water," he added.
Martinez and his team have been slowly adding in gravel, river rock, and other native materials but said that "it's a long term process."
Martinez also completes a yearly evaluation of the trees on his property in the SW Navy Region.
"We have a certified arborist walk each property and give us a condition and lift expectancy for each tree. It takes a while, but it's worth it," he added.
In addition to the water conservation efforts, LMH is also installing solar panels on several properties throughout the SW region. Solar panels work by allowing light particles to knock electrons free from atoms, which generates electricity.
LMH has entered into a power purchase agreement with SolarCity Corporation that provides solar-generated electricity to nearly 6,000 privatized homes in the San Diego area via rooftop-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The initiative was executed under the cognizance of the Department of the Navy's Renewable Energy Program Office (REPO) and is a vital part of the Secretary of the Navy's goal of producing or procuring one gigawatt of renewable energy.
Phase I began in June 2015, was completed in December 2016, and included installing panels on 5,900 units. Phase II began two years later in 2018 and included the installation of 7,100 units. An additional 1,500 units are planned as part of Phase II. Once all phases are complete, there will be 15,100 units under power purchase agreements. A power purchase agreement is a contract between two parties, one that generates electricity and sells it.
Solar panels are an invaluable resource and will help in LMH's overall conservation efforts.
Earth Day is an excellent time to pause and reflect on how we can be better stewards of the planet. By making small changes to our daily lives, we can help be the change we want to see.