Rain Bird’s annual Intelligent Use of Water Awards program expanded his year by simultaneously going global and grassroots. The interactive grant program awarded funds to water conservation and environmental sustainability projects that promote water conservation and green spaces in communities around the world. A global initiative, anyone with access to the Internet could submit a project via the Intelligent Use of Water Awards website at http://www.iuowawards.com and promote it within his or her own community and through social media.
85 projects were submitted to the site and were anonymously voted on by visitors. Over 275,000 votes were cast in all. The ten projects earning the most votes at the end of the voting period in March received funding at three different levels: $1,500 (four awards), $5,000 (three awards), and $10,000 (three awards). The awards were given on World Water Day.
In an area with a problematic history of pollution and fertilizer runoff in communal waterways, Naples Botanical Garden is committed to high performance and the integration of sustainable green building practices into the design of their gardens. Having adopted the water use goals for LEED Gold Certification, the garden is a leader in freshwater conservation and management and incorporates numerous water conserving features into its design. Parking lot bio-swales capture rainwater that filters through the ground, carrying water to the giant entry feature bio-swale, the Rain Garden. A “River of Grass” garden feature serves as a natural filtration system before the water is slowly released to the preserve area. The primary irrigation system for the garden implements soil moisture detectors that direct water as needed through drip emitters. The system has allowed the garden to reduce water use by 50 percent.