Meet Chak Hamra, ELM’s Irrigation & Construction Lead

“There is no better person to take ELM’s exceptional reputation in water management to the next level,” said ELM President, Bruce Moore Jr. about Chak Hamra, who joined the ELM team in August 2022 with a stellar background in Ag Engineering and Natural Resources Management. “Chak’s broad expertise and technical proficiency is not only a tremendous value-add for our commercial real estate clients, but boosts our thought leadership and brand positioning as we approach our 50th year in business.”

Chak says his love for nature goes way back to when he was a kid and is what eventually brought him into the green industry. “I want to find ways to reintroduce more green space to counteract the density of urban sprawl. Making nature accessible to more people not only improves our collective quality of life but is a prescription for healthier communities.”

Irrigation and hydrology form the core of Chak’s passion and his commitment to protect natural resources. It’s a responsibility he takes seriously. “Our consumption of water has increased by approximately 70% from what it used to be in the 60s. I have experienced the green industry in many countries, in different parts of the world, and in different weather conditions. Each situation had unique climate challenges, regional plant species and varieties, and maintenance requirements. Best practices and knowledge have a big impact, but across all regions, I’ve found common ground on a commitment to create greener surroundings and deliver perfect service. That reflects who I am,” said Chak.

Chak earned a Master of Science Degree in Agriculture and Natural Resources Systems Management from the University of Tennessee at Martin, and a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture at the American University of Beirut.

Smart Irrigation Month highlights the social, economic and environmental benefits of efficient irrigation products and services.  This July, ELM is also honoring not only the innovations that are doing the work of water management—digitally calibrating water use, balancing hydration needs of plants, and saving water and cost—but the people who make it all possible. Technology alone may improve efficiencies, but it’s people like Chak who deliver results.

ELM received a ChangeMaker Award in Sustainability from Fairfield County, CT in 2019. With Chak and his team leading on irrigation and water management, we’ll continue to advance our commitment to sustainability and resource conservation every single day.

Welcome to the team, Chak Hamra.

How to make your landscape tough enough, strong enough and healthy enough to weather a long, hot summer.

With summer right around the corner, resilience is our number one landscape goal. But what does that mean?

Heat poses significant risk to human and plant health. To combat and offset the increase in extreme weather, and its impacts on entire landscapes,  we’ve become a leader in efforts to increase landscape resilience.

One successful way to do this is with a combination of Plant Health Care and Water Management–two approaches that help plants be less susceptible to pests and disease and, at the same time, encourage growth and blooming and the visual aesthetics that make a difference in how your property looks and performs.

Start small. Look underground for early signs of trouble. 

A healthy plant adds no value if it’s overwatered or under-watered, or if poor soil texture affects uptake of vital nutrients.  

  • Improve soil structure. Plant growth depends on two natural resources—soil and water. Healthy soil is the key to improving water use efficiency through better drainage and absorption, strengthening root systems, and supporting the ability of the microorganisms below ground to nourish and sustain what grows about ground.
  • Strengthen plant health. Bio-stimulants and biological control products are essential to keep plants free from pests and disease. Combining fertilization and insect control can prevent problems from occurring and save money when the need to replace plants is at least twice as much (if not more) than simply investing in diagnostic and actionable care up-front.
  • Be smart about water. A healthy plant adds no value if its overwatered or underwatered, or if poor soil texture affects uptake of vital nutrients and the right amount of water. Improve irrigation efficiency with digitally controlled water management technology to protect plant health and water quality and keep water and cost from going down the drain.

ROI is the best KPI

High-performing landscapes are good for business.

If you’re benchmarking key performance indicators to meet climate action goals, or making green performance improvements for 2030 and beyond, the health of your landscape and strategies you deploy to bring your site up to speed on sustainability is an action item.

There is no better time to improve landscape performance than summer. And no better way to add immeasurable value and return on performance than an investment in plant health care and water management.

Contact sales@easternland.com to learn more.

 

 

 

Climate-Positive: Our Path to a More Sustainable Future

Eastern Land Management is committed to providing significant economic benefits through sustainable best practices that improve landscape and ecosystem health, protect and conserve resources, and enhance healthier, higher-performing commercial landscapes.

On approach to 2026–our 50th year in business–we are doubling-down on our commitment to do our part to create a more sustainable,  more environmentally-resilient,  and more climate-positive future.

The path forward 

  • Recruit, train and develop landscape and snow professionals, and technical specialists who support our commitment to sustainability and drive progress on goals.
  • Partner with the commercial real estate (CRE) community to  provide landscape services and nature-based strategies that minimize environmental impacts, support green infrastructure, and harness the unique capacity of landscape to reduce and sequester carbon dioxide.
  • Help our clients in commercial real estate and property and facility management to create sustainable value by conducting business with integrity and a shared commitment to advance climate action goals.
  • Help our commercial real estate clients achieve net zero emission goals through a range of options, including robotics, autonomous mowers, smart technology framework, and alternative fuels.
  • Help commercial real estate clients accelerate its transition to a regenerative economy through our commitment to and use of practices that drive carbon sequestration through soil regeneration, plant and ecosystem health.
  • Help commercial real estate clients achieve a climate-positive profile through ongoing improvements in water conservation, irrigation technology, smart water management, ground water health, green waste composting, integrated pest management, resource conservation, erosion control, improvements in energy efficiency, and the use of green technologies that support green building and LEED initiatives.
  • Help commercial real estate clients benefit from the ‘E’ (environmental) metric in ESG, and derive economic benefits that come from high-performing landscape and grounds management services.

Alliances

Our green framework is anchored by a network of sustainability thought leaders and stakeholders who care about these issues as much as we do.

For instance, we …

  • partner with Aquarion Water Company to increase awareness and approaches to water conservation and drought management.
  • are Premier Partners with global irrigation technology pioneer Weathermatic.
  • train with world-class EV manufacturers and sustainable snow and ice consultants.
  • are EV-certified through the American Green Zone Alliance (AGZA).
  • are active members and leaders of national and local trade associations across the industries we serve, including the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP),  Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA), Building & Office Managers Association (BOMA) Southern Connecticut Chapter and BOMA Westchester County, and the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.
  • are certified professionals with advanced accreditation from both the Green Industry and Snow & Ice Industry.
  • have a dedicated sustainable snow/ice and winter operation at our green hub and brine-making facility, located in Monroe Connecticut.
  • provide services that support LEED criteria and work with LEED-certified properties across the CRE spectrum.
  • are experienced in navigating complex logistics for on-structure landscapes and complex commercial sites, including environmentally-sensitive watershed-adjacent, multi-grade, and elevated terrains.
  • have won national Awards of Excellence for our clients across categories, including recognition for Class A green roofs and “green cities” initiatives for urban redevelopment.
  • were recognized as a 2030 Sustainability ChangeMaker by Fairfield County for drought and water management leadership and contribution to urban sustainability.

Advocacy

  • We believe landscape professionals are uniquely situated to advocate for and lead on sustainability, and  will continue to collaborate with clients, suppliers and allied professionals to champion better ways to make Connecticut and Westchester County, NY, water smart, green smart, and healthier, more beautiful places to live, work and play.

For more information on ELM’s path to sustainability, go to: Sustainability | Eastern Land Management | Commercial Landscaping CT & NY

References:

https://www.easternland.com/meet-elms-silent-weapon-in-climate-positive-noise-reduction/

https://www.easternland.com/elms-green-infrastructure-program-is-tackling-urban-stormwater/

https://www.easternland.com/from-the-ground-up-why-soil-regeneration-leads-to-healthier-landscapes/

https://www.easternland.com/elm-is-driving-the-e-in-esg-heres-why-that-matters/

Your Landscape is More Than Just a Pretty Face

Stunningly beautiful, incredibly lush–the look and feel and relationship people have with your landscape is part of the interplay between your business and biodiversity, and the economics of investment into one of the most important ways to create and sustain asset value.  The starting point is understanding the business case landscape makes for having more nature outside your front door.

With spring ushering in longer days, and even longer to-do lists, getting your landscape ready to take on summer puts your property in the cross-hairs of opportunity: make progress on EV and net zero goals,  improve water management and plant health, tackle pests and disease, upgrade worn or dated hardscape, green-up infrastructure, and take action on nature and climate-related risks.

Finding the right partner can help.

Our full-service all-season landscape maintenance contract includes a good turf and perennial program, annual flower rotation, spring and fall seasonal issue targeting and clean-up, irrigation maintenance and water conservation, tree and shrub care, aeration and overfeeding, plant health care, and mulch.  We also have a wide range of enhancements that improve green performance and curb appeal, a strong sustainability framework in place that includes snow and ice services in winter, and ways to help you drive progress on net zero and climate-action goals.

It’s not complicated to get started. We’ve made the process easier than ever. Follow these four simple steps.

1.  Send us a RFP – Request for Proposal – with specs and scope of work, and stretch goals we can look at separately. This will give you a quick apples-to-apples number plus learn if your stretch goals are a cost-efficient tuck-in.

2.  Ask us about our employees’ training and certification, and verification; about our memberships in professional organizations, the awards we’ve won, and our leadership in sustainability.

3.  Don’t forget to ask about our reputation for quality and delivery, and experience on projects just like yours. Ask us what we’re doing to improve water conservation, drive progress on green goals, or meet LEED criteria; and be sure to check out social media to see what others have to say about the work we do.

4.  Include deadlines and timelines so we can get you what you need when you need it, with some wiggle room up front so we have time to cover everything.

Better yet, give us a call. We’d love to add you to our list of CRE partners in Fairfield, New Haven and Westchester Counties.

Contact us at ‭(203) 316-5433. We can’t wait to hear from you.‬

 

 

 

2024 Amenity Report: It’s a Green Light for Outdoor Green Space

With commercial real estate getting back on solid ground, prestige amenities are changing the value narrative. The more innovative, the better.

If you’re looking to differentiate your property, landscaping is a relatively easy way to fast-track progress on goals, mitigate risk to extreme weather, and meet the objectives of all stakeholders with improved aesthetics, reduced energy and water use, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and improvements in net zero.  Consider the dovetailing wants and needs of building owners and their tenants, and how both benefit from a greener footprint.

  • People want to work at properties with quality of life amenities that offer sun and shade, outdoor places with flowers, benches, lighting, fitness areas, walking trails and bike paths, courtyards and plazas, bocce ball and putting greens, no mosquitos, and always, more trees.
  • Property investors and owners want finance upsides–increased reduction in energy use, improved carbon capture, improved water use, green credits and offsets, integration of smart technologies, and a landscape partner that can successfully deliver return on investment and return on value in equal measure.

Improving a landscape is like improving a building. Start with a good foundation, a high-functioning infrastructure, and state-of-the-art technologies to make it greener, make it marketable, and make it profitable.

30% of your site should be high-performing vegetation. Convert turfgrass to meadow plantings or eco-lawn ground cover; create natural areas and restore damaged ones to provide habitat and improve biodiversity; plant more trees to reduce heat island effect; install smart irrigation controllers; improve hardscape with sustainable materials; plant blooming perennials to improve pollinator population; and use integrated pest management, plant health care and best cultural practices to maintain healthy and vigorous plants; and seek less hazardous alternatives to chemicals to improve public health.

About Eastern Land Management.

ELM is a high-value partner, working directly with property owners as well as property and facility managers across Connecticut and Westchester County, NY.

Our CRE portfolio includes trophy Class A, green roof/on-structure mixed-use, multi-family/HOA, hospitals, senior living, and private universities. ELM received the ChangeMaker Award for Sustainability from Fairfield County, CT.

To learn more about green performance and which amenities can fast track your sustainability goals, Call ELM President, Bruce Moore Jr. at: 203-316-5433

Affiliations:

Member, Board of Directors, BOMA Southern Connecticut & BOMA Westchester County; Member, National Association of Landscape Professionals; Member, Snow & Ice Management Association; Certified Landscape Professional; Certified Advanced Snow Professional

 [Photo:  ELM received two NALP (National Association of Landscape Professionals) Awards of Excellence in Landscaping for Merritt7, Norwalk, CT.]

 

How beautiful landscaping improves health and well-being for seniors.

As a professional in the landscape industry and someone with aging parents and in-laws, the stress of finding the right living situation for our loved ones can be overwhelming. It goes beyond financial concerns; we also aspire to place our loved ones in an environment they will truly enjoy, and it all begins with the external aesthetics.

In the domain of senior and assisted living facilities, the significance of establishing a supportive and enriching atmosphere cannot be emphasized enough. With the aging population on the rise, there is a growing awareness of how profoundly surroundings can influence the well-being of residents. An increasingly recognized focal point in this regard is the incorporation of beautiful landscapes into these facilities. Beyond mere aesthetics, a meticulously designed natural environment plays a pivotal role in elevating the quality of life for seniors.

The presence of a lush lawn, vibrant flowers, and calming water features has been proven to contribute to the overall well-being of seniors. Exposure to nature has been linked to reduced stress levels, improved mood, and enhanced mental health. In an environment where residents may face various health challenges, the therapeutic effects of beautiful landscapes become invaluable.

Access to well-maintained outdoor spaces encourages seniors to engage in physical activities, promoting a healthier lifestyle. Walking paths, gardens, and outdoor seating areas provide opportunities for light exercise and social interactions. Additionally, exposure to nature has been associated with cognitive benefits, potentially slowing down cognitive decline and improving memory.

Beautifully landscaped areas serve as inviting communal spaces, fostering social interactions among residents. Whether engaging in group activities, enjoying a family visit in a garden, or participating in outdoor events. This is vital for mental and emotional well-being.

Maintaining outdoor spaces can offer seniors a sense of purpose and engagement. Gardening clubs, outdoor yoga classes, or music events are just a few examples of activities that can be organized in these landscapes. Such activities contribute to a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, enhancing the overall quality of life for residents.

Regular maintenance is crucial to ensure that outdoor spaces remain vibrant and welcoming. Lawns should be well-maintained, and seasonal flowers can be incorporated to provide visual variety throughout the year. Additionally, ensuring that these areas are easily accessible to all residents, including those with mobility challenges, is essential.

In the evolving landscape of senior and assisted living facilities, the incorporation of beautiful outdoor spaces is more than a luxury; it is a necessity for promoting the well-being of residents. Beyond the physical infrastructure, the beauty of nature has the power to uplift spirits, create a sense of purpose, and enhance the overall quality of life for seniors. As we continue to innovate in the realm of elder care, let us not underestimate the transformative impact that a carefully designed and maintained landscape can have on the lives of those who have contributed so much to our communities.

By Marc Angarano, ELM Client Services, North Region (Monroe CT)

Contact: sales@easternland.com

Preparing for The Big Chill

Late fall begins a hibernation cycle when plants and root systems slow down to conserve their energy. With no new foliage until warmer weather, our attention turns to the action below ground, long before signs of the first frost.

  • Protect and nourish root and soil systems, with a thick layer of nutrient-rich mulch to insulate and regulate soil temperature, hold in moisture, and keep roots from freeze damage.
  • Feed and water appropriately before the first frost. Avoid fertilizing, which will be ineffective during dormancy or cause them to sprout with unnecessary new growth.
  • Use soil moisture sensors and smart technology to measure hydration levels.Moist soil can hold 4 times more heat than dry soil, warming the plant as much as a 2-3 degrees
  • Deal with drainage problems promptly, as wet soils can make young plants more likely to uproot in wind.
  • Prune dead wood, clean up shrubs and trees, cut back perennials, remove debris, cut turf grass shorter, aerate and fertilize prior to first freeze.
  • Protect evergreens by wrapping with breathable burlap to shelter and protects the plant from heavy winds, salt, and heavy snow loads.
  • Get ahead of thaw cycles and know what plants can weather winter.

Contact Client Service Representatives Marc Angarano and Ted Marron at sales@easternland.com to learn more.

Unsure about your landscape contract renewal strategy? Here are four ways you can extract the most value.

For most property management companies, a wide-range of suppliers, vendors and partners are essential to meet the demands of daily operations, whether for the smooth running of the office or the way landscape and grounds significantly improve asset value.

The need for seamless continuity requires a life cycle of renewal that, despite its transactional nature, is an opportunity to safeguard relationships as well as an opportunity for both parties to achieve maximum value.

For properties pursuing initiatives that reduce energy, water, carbon and advance sustainability goals, ELM landscape contracts can take the process one step further with actionable steps that include specific solutions and provisions that protect and enhance local ecosystems, decrease the amount of chemicals, water and waste, and establish larger frameworks for continuous improvements in planting strategies.

  • Start early

Your landscape needs may have changed since you initially signed the contract.  Start the negotiation process early – prior to the existing season ending – and discuss options well before your contract expires. This gives you the opportunity to talk about pricing, learn more about new features and benefits, and discuss continuous refinements that meet green performance goals. On a practical level, getting your wish list in early gives your landscape contractor enough time to procure materials, and newer products and smart technologies that may have a waiting list. 

  • Get maximum value

Preparation is important if you want to extract maximum value. To achieve the best outcome, don’t cut corners. Give the contract process your full attention. It’s an excellent opportunity for both parties to achieve the best possible outcomes. build stronger relationships and renegotiate terms that are can be more favorable to both.

  • Reduce administrative burden

Most landscape contracts are automated with project management software that can make the administrative process fast and as easy as possible. If everything goes smoothly, it can be an opportunity to make the best use of the services and knowledge your landscape contractor offers. Having your contracts in place prior to spring – when the growing season begins – allows everyone to spend time on helping your property reap strategic benefits, such as higher ROI, enhanced oversight, decreased risk and higher performance.

  • Gain a seamless experience

Communicating and planning throughout the year – especially during winter and non-peak growing seasons – is crucial to success. By implementing the contract renewal process early, property managers can save time, extract more value, resolve problems faster, and stay ahead of important milestones and performance goals.

Email us  or call: 203-316-5433 to learn more.

Sustainability is Not Just for Summer: Meet the Earth-friendly practices that protect your landscape through winter.

Greg Gross, branch manager at Eastern Land Management’s “Green Hub” in Monroe, Connecticut, says that sustainable practices during peak growing months is the best way to prepare and protect your landscape for winter. That’s why he’s hosting the firm’s fourth annual Snow Rodeo, a two-day, all-hands winter management training and preparedness program, held this year on October 26-27.

“Winter weather is becoming harder to predict,” Greg says, “so prep, preparedness and contingency planning is more important than ever. The additional stress winter brings to plants and trees, and the operational stress it brings to property and facility managers—cost control, risk management, rising expectations, and liabilities linked to the environment and pedestrian safety—require us to continually improve our game.”

ELM has a long-standing commitment to cut down on chlorides and the firm’s organic-based liquid ice melt products, and its own brine-making facility in Monroe, significantly decreases the amount of traditional salting methods that harm and pollute waterways.

ELM’s snow rodeo addresses these challenges and more, including best practices in storm response, resource allocation, materials and equipment safety, new plow technologies, shoveling techniques, and ways to make sure that plants, landscapes, and people are protected from the hazards of winter.

    • Pre-winter landscape protection with mulching, pruning, fall clean-up, winterized irrigation systems
    • Full property inspection and pre-winter game planning
    • Proactive planning with client to keep commercial properties, college campuses and schools, HOAs, hospitals and senior living facilities safe and accessible, operational, and open
    • Strategies for constant communication, predicted weather events, impending storms, and regular updates
    • Consistent equipment and training on repeat
    • Proprietary weather forecasting, online weather resources, and data models
    • High-performance equipment and advanced technologies
    • Proprietary brine solutions that use less salt per square foot and protect waterways, landscapes and the environment
    • Earth-friendly snow and ice melt solutions
    • Organic, non-chloride applications that reduce corrosion and cost of spring clean- up and repair on architectural building details and hardscape
    • Seasonal snow and ice contract options so you always know how much to budget for winter
    • Hazard mitigation, risk management, pedestrian and vehicle safety, sidewalks and parking lot management that address liability concerns
    • Year-round weather readiness, alerts and warnings
    • Year-round plant health care and sustainable approaches
    • Year-round commitment to do what it takes to keep safety first, no matter the weather, the season or the unexpected

Severe weather is a fact of life in the Northeast. Snow and ice storms, blizzards, freezing temps, and reduced visibility are powerful and damaging. Spring may be the best time to think about what your landscaping and environmental strategies will look like in summer, but failure to prepare can be costly.

To learn more about ELM’s sustainable snow and ice services, winter management and winter safety program, contact ELM President and Advanced Snow Management Professional, Bruce Moore Jr. at (203) 316-5433.

ELM is an active member of the Snow & Ice Management Association (SIMA) and certified as Advanced Snow Management Professionals.

Photo: ELM Monroe Connecticut facility and “Green Hub”, host of ELM’s annual Snow Rodeo and winter safety training event.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ABCs of RFPs: What property & facility managers need to know about finding a landscape partner.

Whether you’re a property or facility professional, RFPs – Request for Proposals – will sooner or later fall within your task bucket.

As a procurement tool, RFPs can be a great leveler. But they also don’t tell the whole story; they can feel like tedious wheel reinvention for both parties, and when they’re ‘kitchen sink’ approaches – or ask for everything but, there is no room for differentiation.

We think there’s a better way.

With spring start-up season just around the corner, here’s our advice for tailoring your landscape services RFP to give you the best partner for the job.

RFPs don’t tell the whole story

Service companies that respond to RFPs end up in a pool of commodity contractors who compete on price. When landscape companies compete on price, it’s because they often look for cheaper options to deliver on apples-to-apples specs. The bad news for property and facility professionals who contract landscaping services through RFPs is that you get what you pay for – a hamster wheel of RFP-won contractors who offer price instead of value.  We believe that value is a competitive advantage. When you eliminate value, you lose the upside value brings.

How to make RFPs a win-win   

For both landscape services contracts and complex landscaping projects—those with upgrades, renovations, and performance and environmental improvements—a well-written RFP can be effective at filtering out weak players. To create a consistently good RFP and RFP process, think about making your RFP an RFV – or Request for Value.

In addition to describing what you and your commercial property or facility needs and your expectations for delivery, include your sustainability goals and context for what the landscaping itself will meet, such as: talking points from your site performance plan (are you targeting carbon neutral or qualifying for LEED?), include the ‘need to haves’ and the ‘nice to haves’, criteria for curb appeal and improved asset value, and a realistic deadline for the contractor to respond. Avoid generalities, proof-read for typos, edit for clarity, and eliminate redundant questions and contradictory requirements.

A cautionary note about AI-enabled technology:  When the RFP response process is automated, do the math.  While automation offers efficiencies and fills out things at a much quicker pace, the scope piece when compared to non-automated bids may not add up. Always double check to make sure you’re not getting apples-to-oranges.

If you’re looking to save cost, remember: low-bid doesn’t tell the whole story. The best return on investment is calculated by actual and perceived value, and the long-term value that comes from a strong relationship.

We do our best work when we work with people—face to face, building connections, friendships, and opportunities to gain trust.  Our advice? Use your RFP as a solid starting point. A way to open the door and start a conversation, and a way to make sure you’re getting more than a team of qualified vendors, but a strategic partnership where value is created and delivered every step of the way.

If you’re renewing your contracts, seeking a new landscape partner, or just interested in keeping the conversation going, give us a call to share your thoughts.

{This blog was originally published in February 2023).