Think Outside the Building

How ELM drives value in $900-million industry……

Connecticut’s independent and private schools are not only among the finest in the nation but part of an historical institutional legacy going back hundreds of years. And for forty of those years, Eastern Land Management (ELM) has been their landscape services and grounds management partner.

According to the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, this segment is a $931-million-plus piece of the American economy. That’s impressive when considering that the independent school experience is a deliberate investment. And parents, who invest in their child’s education, are holding schools accountable not only to academic standards, but also to the value-added benefit of it being an exceptional facility – inside and out.

This pressure for private and independent schools to compete has more schools embracing a greener footprint as an economic growth factor. To address this, ELM has put together a best practices checklist that provides campus decision makers with guidelines for optimizing the environmental health of the campus landscape; this includes enhancing the vitality of its turf and trees, improving plant performance, protecting and conserving resources, and maintaining fields and open spaces in ways that do minimal harm to the surrounding environment, while also saving on long-term operating costs.
Measuring value.

This guide is designed to help school facility managers understand why and how to develop, implement, and evaluate a landscape maintenance plan and how to collaborate with a landscape contracting team for the most effective return on your capital investment. This checklist is also relevant to heads of school, trustees, financial officers and other members of the school’s governance committees who are entrusted with the prudent stewardship of school funds.

Preventive Maintenance

“Pay me now or pay me later.” If you spend a few dollars now to change the filter in your car, you avoid more expensive repairs in the future. In other words, performing regular inspections and maintenance, and proactive repairs and upgrades, whether for your automobile or your landscape, prevents future big-ticket costs and prolongs the functional lifetime of your asset.

Because your school landscape is a living thing, the unexpected is inevitable. ELM landscape professionals identify inevitabilities and implement a plan for dealing with them. This proactive approach to protecting and preserving your core campus asset is proven to have a long-range positive fiscal impact on the school’s operating budget.

Site Evaluation

Landscape maintenance plans must not only meet legal standards with regard to safety, operations and the environment, but also strive to meet the long-term needs of the organization. One of its most important elements is the need for emergency preparedness, contingency planning and storm response with an eye to ensuring that the landscape and grounds are safe and protected for all members of the school community throughout the year.
Frequently asked questions.

What should be in my landscape plan, does it address the following?

1. Responsibly managed chemical use and safety.
2. Responsibly managed watering and sprinkler systems, the use of recycled water/gray water for irrigating sports fields and peripheral areas, if relevant.
3. Responsibly managed and upgraded irrigation and drainage systems.
4. Responsibly managed seasonal impacts and weather events.
5. Responsibly managed costs and benefits of seasonal color, perennials, garden areas, green belts and open spaces, lawns, signature trees, signage areas, entries, and focal points.
6. Responsibly managed grounds as safe outdoor field laboratories.
7. Responsibly provided and communicated work order systems, scheduling systems, work flow, best practice systems, procedures, and identified needs assessment for landscape enhancements.
8. Responsibly managed wetlands, watershed, streams, estuaries, groundwater, and wildlife and pollinator habitats.
9. Responsibly managed approaches to stewardship and conservation to drive the school’s green objectives.
10. Responsibly and proactively managed winter risk management, safety and liability.

What should I look for when hiring an outside contractor?

1. Is your landscape service team experienced in serving the unique needs of schools and demonstrating subject matter expertise about your key issues?
2. Does the landscape services company understand school cultural norms and expectations of behavior, such as privacy, discretion, discipline, integrity, accountability and reputation?
3. How often will senior members of your landscape services team visit your campus to observe and monitor the quality of work, verify overall improvements and ongoing progress?
4. To what extent will discretion be optimized and disruption minimized?
5. Will results be well documented, reported and archived?
6. Will there be a punch list to identify and fix safety issues, plant health, hardscape irregularities, and seasonal concerns, such as summer pests and winter weather?
7. What kind of documentation will be provided to support risk and liability?
8. Is a corner-to-corner property needs assessment provided so all areas of the property can be evaluated, prioritized and cared for according to campus master planning goals, budgeting, and phase objectives?
9. Are areas of concern, such as playing fields, tree health, and environmentally sensitive areas addressed in context?
10. Will your service team have an ongoing commitment to training and professional development?
11. Is the landscape company active in major professional organizations, such as the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) and snow associations? Are their seasonal managers Advanced Snow Management (ASM)-certified by SIMA (Snow & Ice Management Association) and Certified Snow Professionals?
12. Is your service team active in or affiliated with the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools and/or engaged in learning about your trends, issues, and needs?

Finding the right fit for your landscape services

There are numerous reasons why schools outsource their landscape and winter maintenance operations. Often in-house operations – with labor costs, supply costs, costs of benefits, and overhead – gets too expensive to fund. Outsourcing integrated landscape and snow management services to a single source provider will allow you to enjoy the cost advantages offered by economies of scale that drives down cost, increases accountability, and supports critical process quality.

Direct Savings

1. Decreased equipment and operating expenses.
2. Decreased need for special skills, services or tools/equipment.
3. Decreased personnel and hiring costs.
4. Decreased insurance costs/focus on risk management.
5. Decreased renovation costs due to proactivity.
6. Decreased overhead costs because of system, time and scheduling, efficiency.
7. Decreased supply costs.
8. Recovery of costs through sale of campus landscape equipment assets available to invest in, and redirect to, core school improvement priorities.

Indirect Benefits

1. Improved quality, cleanliness, orderliness and safety of the facility.
2. Beautified campus grounds that enhance student and school self-image.
3. Improved impact of the facility on learning and student performance.
4. Improved admissions and student and faculty retention.
5. Positive contributions to the environment.
6. Optimized lifecycle cost of your landscape.
7. Increased property values.
8. Improved risk and liability management.

ELM has demonstrably reduced costs to school operating budgets by 15-35%. To learn more about ELMs landscape program for independent and private schools, go to:
Or contact Bruce Moore @ 203.316.5433.

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