The Professional Landcare Network marked a green industry victory when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a Notice of Intent to remove the 40-percent turfgrass restriction from the WaterSense program’s landscape specifications. The same requirement was removed from the International Green Construction Code by a 2/3 vote of the International Code Council.
In 2009, the EPA introduced the WaterSense landscape restriction requiring that only 40 percent of a building’s landscape consist of turfgrass, regardless of varying regional climates or whether the site had access to sources of reusable water, such as recycled stormwater. In 2010, the requirement was proposed by the EPA as part of the International Green Construction Code that many local governments use to form their requirements for new commercial buildings, and could eventually be used for new residential buildings as well. Going forward, the only requirement for EPA WaterSense labeled landscapes will be adherence to the EPA’s water budget tool.
“It is well documented that turfgrass produces sound environmental benefits,” stated Tom Delaney, director of government affairs for PLANET. “I’m glad that after a three-year effort, green industry professionals and the EPA were able to come to an agreement. I’d like to thank the many groups that worked with legislators on Capitol Hill and with EPA officials to achieve this success.”
The issue was also part of PLANET’s Legislative Day on the Hill in July 2011 when PLANET members met with congressional leaders to explain the significance of the proposal.
Discussing the EPA’s water budget tool, which is used to determine the regional suitability of landscapes, Delaney said, “The EPA’s water budget tool continues to be an issue. PLANET will work with other industry groups to help in the ongoing development of water use tools and guides for lawn care and landscape professionals.”