Previously in I LOVE WATER…FOUNTAINS (But Not Everyone Does) it was clear I have some favorite water fountains. So, who doesn’t love water fountains? Namely owners and here are three reasons why:
- Illegal Water Use – during times of drought municipalities often implement water restrictions which may require the fountains to be turned off.
- Power – water weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon, which means Buckingham Fountain moves about 3500 tons of water each hour which takes a lot of energy and costs a lot of money.
- Maintenance – leaves, sludge, algae, corrosion, equipment fatigue, freezing temperatures, college fraternities with soap, etc. combine to require monthly or more frequent and costly contracts.
So what happens to fountains that are no longer loved or at least not loved enough to continue paying the piper or finding a way to make it rain? The good news is with a little, or a lot of creativity a fountain can have a second useful and productive life.
Such was the case for Childress Klein Properties, owner of the Atlanta Galleria Office Park, who was motivated by drought conditions to convert the main fountain to a more sustainable and water-wise space. Basins which once received the water from cascading falls became the new home for more sustainable materials. Shrubs, perennials and pavers replaced the water to form a new garden space inviting people to gather without having to wear a bathing suit.
Known as a knot garden because of its formal design in a square frame, the East Garden consists of a variety of aromatic plants with walking paths, edges formed by boxwood shrubs, and compartments that work together to form a cohesive design. Behind the scene, or at least under the mulch, drip irrigation provides supplemental water for the plants during times of low rainfall.
The East Garden has become a focal point for people as they arrive and for tenants viewing from the surrounding buildings. Leasing representatives believe it adds value and helps them market the space because prospective tenants like the view from the upper floors onto the garden.
Water conservation as a result of removing the fountain reduces about 2.9 million gallons of water used annually which loweres water bills by $21,620. Energy conservation, as a result of not running pumps and fountain equipment, saves an additional $55,000 a year.
Tenant response has been very positive to the improved green surroundings. They appreciate the fact the building owner is environmentally conscious and want to use what was an uninviting space in the traffic circle as an informal gathering spot.
From the owner’s perspective, the positive impact with tenants may be more powerful than the cost savings, because like water in a drought, goodwill created with customers is …priceless.
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Full Disclosure: The East Garden was designed, installed and maintained by ValleyCrest. More pictures of this conversion and other water fountains can be found on the ValleyCrest Flickr page.