Solar Turbines is a Catepillar Company based in San Diego. In 2009, with water rates rising & water shortages looming, Solar was motivated to meet important sustainability goals by significantly reducing its water consumption. Management was seeking a ‘high performance’ landscape with sustainable features, and began with the bold step of removing 90,000 sf of turf.
The creation of this stunning botanical garden in place of the turf has garnered numerous awards & accolades, and has resulted in an overall water use reduction of 80%.
The garden serves as a tangible source of corporate pride, and has become an invaluable employee amenity. It’s beauty and sustainable features attracts visitors from surrounding the office parks, as well as water-conscious educational programs & water agencies throughout Southern California.
The garden’s ‘high performance strategies’ include:
- 2 acres of turf replaced with drought tolerant ‘show-piece’ trees, shrubs, & succulent plants from around the world
- High-efficiency irrigation system operated by a new smart controller (tied to weather station data)
- Mature trees salvaged to maintain site cooling & provide viable habitat
- Existing mounds sculpted into river beds, creating a network of ‘rain swales’
- Site cobblesyone harvested and ‘re-used’ in riverbeds
- Site soil re-located to form new raised mounds for drought tolerant trees and shrubs
- Decomposed granite pathways created to facilitate stormwater percolation rather than run-off
- Soil amended with organic material to improve moisture retention and support healthy ‘biota’
- Bark mulch added to retain soil moisture