Register with GEF for FREE to enjoy these great benefits! 

    • member only contests and raffles

    • sustainability program news and updates

    • significant discounts at GEF Institute

Note: If you have problems registering, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Taking a GEF Institute Course? Login by clicking here.






Join Us

Sign Up for National Green Week!
Please note: Your privacy is very important to GEF. We do not share or sell any of your data.  It is with the sole purpose of providing you with relevant information that GEF will contact you.
Curriculum button_

Download GEF Institute's green building lessons and classroom supplements!

San Diego, California
Sunset 1
Sunset 2

Like many American homes, this residence overlooking the Pacific Ocean featured an irrigated turf-grass lawn. Southern
Sunset 4California is part of the southwest desert region (based on annual rainfall) but due to its close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, it has a Mediterranean climate. San Diego imports approximately 80% of its water supply from faraway sources, which is an expensive and energy-intensive process. Landscape irrigation accounts for approximately 63% of the water used at a typical Southern California residence. In re-designing the landscape, the new owners used native plant species to save water.

As always, green design will account for regional and climatic factors. The new landscape design shows an awareness of
Sunset 3the region’s true coastal habitat and minimal water availability. By eliminating the lawn area and incorporating Mediterranean plant material, it has minimized the irrigation requirements and assures a beautiful and successful landscape that will require minimal maintenance for years to come. Yard waste, energy use, pollution and maintenance costs are also significantly reduced.

The new “regionally appropriate” plant material can withstand the extreme salt-laden winds and exposures that define this coastal zone. Introducing colors and textures mimicking the adjacent bluffs, the design brings regionally exotic materials to activate the landscape with colors, motions and textures that were previously absent. Passersby are intrigued by the design of the yard, and quick to admire its beauty. The owners are happy do discuss how it is sensitive to the region and displays an awareness of responsibility to environmental stewardship.

A portion of an actual water utility bill for the residence demonstrates how vital water is within the Southern California region, and how this landscape renovation project has reduced the water consumption by 68%! This is an excellent demonstration of how much water is dedicated to outdoor use – especially lawns – and how sustainable, regionally appropriate landscape design can conserve this precious resource.

Sunset 6
Courtesy ENVIRONS Landscape Architecture, Inc, San Diego.