Brave New World – Trends and Opportunities in the Emerging Green Environment

Tom Barrett Portrait

Tom Barrett

Three Latest Trends

Tom Barrett, an international business consultant and a nationally known landscape and irrigation industry expert, keynoted the Ohio Irrigation Association’s Annual irrigation contractor meeting at the CENTS convention on January 7, 2015 in Columbus, Ohio. Tom’s presentation focused on the top three latest trends:

  • Current economic conditions;
  • National industry trends in the environmental movement; and
  • Social trends that affect the emerging purchasing behavior in today’s consumer.

In 2014 the irrigation and landscape industry grew between 6% to 8% across the nation. However, this trend was not uniform throughout the country or even in metropolitan areas. Wealthy areas, like northern Columbus, Ohio, experienced greater growth than poorer areas of the city and the country.

In 2015 Expect a 9% Increase in Commercial Construction

Dodge Reports,  the largest provider of commercial construction project plans and news, latest trend reports a 9% increase in commercial construction projects for 2015. Overall, the economic outlook is good for landscape and irrigation construction.

University of Cincinnati Extensive Green Roof

Extensive Green Roof at the University of Cincinnati.

Water Pollution Caused by Stormwater Runoff Creates Additional Opportunities

The increasing emphasis in environmental issues through the world can also benefit landscape and irrigation contractors. The U.S. EPA is coming under increasing scrutiny for water pollution caused by stormwater runoff.

Over 175 communities across the United States have stormwater systems that feed stormwater through their sewage treatment facilities. It seems wasteful to treat rainwater as sewer water but, more importantly, the sewage treatment facilities are not designed to handle the large volume of water that occurs from a rain event. Such facilities, with as little as a 1/4 inch of rainwater, will overflow the rainwater mixed with untreated sewerage into the local waterways.

University of Cincinnati Extensive Green Roof

Extensive Green Roof at the University of Cincinnati.

The issue of stomwater runoff was especially noteworthy in Ohio where the pollution in Lake Erie forced the City of Toledo to shut off it water supply to half a million people for three days this past summer.

Green infrastructure has been heralded as a more efficiency and effective solution to the nation’s water pollution issues. Green infrastructure utilizes living plant material to create a more natural method for stormwater mitigation.

The following green infrastructure methods are areas that require greater landscape and irrigation contractor expertise and participation:

  • rain gardens;
  • bioswales;
  • green roofs;
  • rainwater harvesting; and
  • condensate recovery.

 Social Trends

Finally, in closing, Barrett’s presentation focused on three broad social trends most landscape and irrigation contractors are missing out on:

  1. Digital marketing and social media;
  2. Aging population; and
  3. Dramatic increase in women’s affluence in the United States.

There were several questions from the audience about the lower prices for gasoline predicting an economic recession. Barrett replied that he did not see lower gasoline prices reducing the demand for landscaping and irrigation.

Business Do Not Create Jobs; Consumers Create Jobs

In fact, Barrett went on to say, “The current economic recovery has missed the mark in job creation by focusing on large multi-national corporations. 70% of jobs in America are created by smaller business with fifty or less employees. Additionally, no business will create jobs without consumer demand. The job creation focus needs to be on putting money into circulation through consumers.”

Reviews And Comments

The most memorable concept from the presentation was women’s impact in the workforce today.

My favorite part of the presentation was the statistics on how the world is changing.


What to Ask When Purchasing a ‘Smart’ Controller

What questions should I ask before purchasing a “smart” controller?

The Irrigation Association®, a non-profit organization supporting water conservation through efficient irrigation, has information on their website to educate consumers about the questions to ask their contractor when considering a “smart” irrigation controller.

Click here to read more. . .

Be sure to read it prior to meeting with your irrigation professional. And before beginning any work, be sure to confirm that your contractor is specifically trained in the installation of the “smart” controller they have selected.

What Is Certification?

Courtesy of the Irrigation Association

The Irrigation Association began its certification programs to help homeowners and businesses identify qualified and competent irrigation contractors and designers.

When you hire a professional certified by the IA, you are hiring someone who is experienced, trained and working to meet irrigation industry standards. Certified irrigation specialists must first have a certain level of experience and/or training. They must then pass a comprehensive exam covering general irrigation subjects as well as specialty areas and agree to follow a code of ethics. To maintain active certification, specialists must take continuing education classes.

You may verify that an irrigation professional is currently certified (or find an IA certified professional) by visiting Certified Professionals. Or call the IA office at 703-536-7080 (Mon-Fri ET), if you have questions concerning the status of a prospective contractor.

[Read more…]

Choosing a Contractor

Adapted from materials created by the Carolinas Irrigation Association

Whether you are searching for a professional irrigation contractor to install a system or to service an existing system, any professional you consider should have certain qualifications to do your work. The bottom line is that you are not just buying an irrigation system, but you are also buying the services of a contractor. Your job is to find the professional to do the work that will satisfy you. Use this guide along with questions on the IA Irrigation Consumer Bill of Rights.

[Read more…]

Water Sense Irrigation Partners

Launched in 2006, Water Sense is an EPA-sponsored partnership program that seeks to protect the future of our nations water supply by promoting water efficiency and enhancing the market for water-efficient products, programs and practices.

These professionals are certified through Water Sense labeled programs for their expertise in water-efficient irrigation technology and techniques.

Currently those irrigation professionals certified through the following programs may become a partner with Water Sense.

– Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Designer (CID) program

– Irrigation Association Certified Irrigation Contractor (CIC) program

– Irrigation Association Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor (CLIA) program

– Irrigation Association Certified Golf Irrigation Auditor (CGIA) program

Position your company as and expert in water-saving products and practices. Presently there are only 30 EPA Water Sense Partners in the state of Ohio.

IA Reacts to EPA’s New Home Specification

After a thorough review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final specification for the WaterSense® labeling program for new, single-family homes, the Irrigation Association welcomes and supports positive changes from earlier drafts.

The final spec:

• Includes a more realistic, 0.65 distribution uniformity audit requirement.
• Requires that irrigation systems be designed or installed and audited by WaterSense-certified professionals.
• Allows turfgrass (in addition to other vegetation) on slopes that exceed four feet of horizontal run per one foot of vertical rise.

IA continues to oppose prescriptive elements in the final specification that lack sound scientific support, including the 40-percent turf limitation. The association will continue to engage WaterSense leadership to ensure advances in industry technologies and practices are incorporated in future iterations.

IA members are encouraged to submit feedback on the new homes spec to
IA Federal Affairs Director John Farner (; 703.536.7080).

August Meeting Minutes



John Newlin
J.C. Wheaton
John B. Dolle



I. Roll Call –
J. C. Wheaton
John Newlin
John Dolle [Read more…]

The Ohio IA announces the release of a Ohio IA Sticker to display proudly!

Three color stickers, measuring 7.5″ x 9.5″ , featuring the new O.I.A. logo, along with the website address along the bottom. Show your support for the Ohio Irrigation Association and order today! $6.25ea (includes shipping). Order yours below:

(Paypal submission form)

Ohio Irrigation Association Announces New Dues Structure

The Ohio Irrigation Association has decided to re-structure our dues tiers to make membership easier for contractors. The new structure is as follows:

$50 – will be renewal rate if currently a member, or if a new candidate is also a member of another green industry association

$75 – for all new contractor member candidates who are not currently a member of any other green industry association

Student memberships will remain free

*All renewals due April 1st. It will no longer be necessary to submit Contractor Qualifications.

Pay for your Membership Online!

(PayPal submission form)