Harvesting Raindrops for Landscape Use

Posted on Nov 28 2012 - 12:31pm by Brent Hardy


At Extra Space Storage, finding out about our environmentally friendly programs is as easy as looking above your head. At several storage facilities, we’ve harnessed solar power to save energy, and brought daylight inside to reduce lighting costs. But now we’re looking up in a whole new way. I’m talking about capturing those raindrops that keep falling on your head!


Focusing on Top Water Users

We’re currently evaluating our top ten properties that require the most water to see how rainwater harvesting can help us cut landscaping costs and save water. Taking a closer look at our highest users of water is part of our continuing effort to reduce our ecological footprint.

Photo by flickr user Laffy4k

Considering ROI and Rainfall 

I’ve discussed how choosing the best locations for solar power is critical to success for return on investment (ROI), and that also holds true for rainwater harvesting. While rainwater harvesting is beneficial for reducing water consumption and helping the environment, it is usually a capital intensive to get the system started. Since it can be expensive to begin collecting rainwater, we’re looking at a few different factors to make sure we choose wisely.


The cost of water in a particular area is one factor we consider when determining whether installing rainwater harvesting systems will yield a positive ROI. It’s also important to analyze whether a specific location has a good rainfall rate. Those raindrops don’t always fall on your head in, say, Nevada! While it’s nice to capture any rainfall, the ROI in drier areas may mean that rainwater harvesting isn’t a good fit, and other methods are more useful for reducing water consumption.


Also, from a practical standpoint, we must carefully evaluate whether specific properties have adequate space available for rainwater harvesting systems. Not all properties have the space to hold the cisterns for storing water before its pumped back out to keep the grass green!


Reducing Water Usage in Other Ways

While I’m hoping that our evaluation of potential sites for rainwater harvesting materializes into installation of systems at some storage properties, I’m happy to report that we’ve already taken steps to help reduce our water usage. As I’ve mentioned before, we take advantage of rain sensors to make our sprinkler systems smart enough to realize when they don’t need to run. Rain sensors are a cost-effective solution, and easy to implement. When appropriate, we’ve also used xeriscaping (or desertscaping) to cut down on the amount of landscaping that needs water in the first place! Xeriscaping is perfect for areas with very little rainfall.


While rainwater sensors and xeriscaping have been effective for cutting water usage at some properties, I also enjoy new challenges. Rainwater harvesting is a fresh concept in my facilities management world! I look forward to sharing our progress as we explore rainwater harvesting as another way to be even more environmentally responsible as a company.


Do you collect rainwater for landscaping use? What measures have you taken to cut your water consumption?

 Brent Hardy