Managing some of the most popular and unique retail destinations in the world requires an exceptional focus on customer experience. GGP, (General Growth Properties, Inc.), knows that focus is not limited just to the present. Recognizing that every business decision can impact the future, GGP pays special attention to protecting and preserving natural resources. Their commitment to environmental sustainability has earned them Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark’s highest ranking, Green Star, as well as the title of North American leader in the Retail – Large Cap sector.
Located in one of the nation’s fastest-growing areas, Baybrook Mall is one of Houston’s most prominent shopping centers. The mall comprises 1.2 million square feet of retail space with five anchor stores and approximately 170 shops and restaurants. An outdoor lifestyle expansion currently underway will nearly double the mall’s footprint.
Because of persistent drought in Texas, GGP was looking for ways to conserve water and ensure the long term viability of the landscaping at their Houston mall properties. “Attractive landscaping is a crucial component of the success of the Baybrook Mall,” stated GGP’s Senior Director of National Operations, Tom McCarthy. “With a large, public-friendly green space at the heart of our outdoor expansion, we needed a conservation program that would not only save water but also preserve Baybrook’s pristine landscape.” Water is also a large operating expense and GGP wanted to ensure maximum efficiency in their water usage.
After learning that Weathermatic’s Sustainability Services could provide 24/7 irrigation system monitoring, remote accessibility, and online inspection reporting, GGP chose to partner with the irrigation technology company to achieve their conservation goal. GGP decision-makers liked the comprehensive irrigation management processes as well as the promise of increasing Baybrook’s landscape value while decreasing water waste and utility costs.
The upgrade began in August of 2014 when Weathermatic’s Operations Manager, Casey Bambico, and his team retrofitted the mall’s eight irrigation controllers to new EPA WaterSense-labeled Weathermatic SmartLine controllers with individual onsite weather stations and SmartLink aircards. WaterSense labeled products are independently certified to be at least 20% more efficient than similar products in the same category. Bambico noted that “Because Weathermatic uses an onsite weather station at every controller rather than receiving weather data from an offsite location like our competitors, we are able to get much more specific in our programming. Accurate data – weather, soil type, plant type, and sprinkler type – is key to reducing water use while maintaining a thriving landscape.”
After installation was complete, Bambico, and Weathermatic’s Executive Vice President of Sustainability Services, Brodie Bruner, provided onsite training for GGP personnel and the landscape staff from Baybrook’s landscape maintenance contractor, ALPC. McCarthy, as well as the Houston area malls’ Operations Managers, Chief Engineers, and General Managers benefitted from learning hands-on how the new SmartLine irrigation system works and how to use it. Weathermatic’s team have installed an additional five controller bundles on the outdoor expansion, to manage a total of 146 stations on 11 controllers on the Baybrook Mall property.
Since beginning the Sustainability Services program in 2014, Baybrook Mall has met 130% of its initial water conservation goal by saving almost 4.5 million gallons.. The reduction in water usage has contributed to a financial savings of over $15,000, plus an additional $13,000 in avoided repair costs Baybrook’s Senior Operations Manager, Tommy Wetuski, credits the new visibility of the mall’s water consumption for helping to cut back. Weathermatic’s around-the-clock monitoring allows us to get an alert immediately if there is an issue with the irrigation system or a change in the programming. Thanks to proactive alerts and our excellent landscape contractor, ALPC, repairs are always made promptly and we don’t waste water because of damaged lines or broken sprinklers,” Wetuski noted. “The Sustainability Services program has really streamlined our communications up the line from ALPC to Baybrook management.”
ALPC’s landscape crew has been taking advantage of Weathermatic’s SmartLink Wireless Network to manage the new irrigation controllers remotely with iPads. BecauseWeathermatic’s smart irrigation technology is more user-friendly than other irrigation controls, it’s simple to train new crew members to use the SmartLine system and the SmartLink network. This saves the landscape crew time and allows them to work more efficiently.