Bank of America has announced two new initiatives in its efforts to help address California’s severe drought conditions - a $250,000 grant to the Pacific Institute, which will go towards the Institute’s drought research and response effort; and the expansion of xeriscaping, or drought-tolerant landscaping, at six of its California banking centers.
“These initiatives are part of a broader response on our part, beginning earlier this year when we committed $500,000 to help increase the capacity of local food banks to serve agricultural workers who have lost their jobs because of the drought,” said Janet Lamkin, Bank of America’s California president. “We’re continuing to seek ways to help the state manage through the drought and address ongoing water issues, as well as conserve water in our own operations.”
The Pacific Institute is working on new approaches to the drought, including conservation and efficiency, storm water capture and water reuse. It plans to partner with nonprofits and academic and government institutions on technical analyses, policy recommendations and communications and outreach.
“We hope to see more corporations like Bank of America step up as leaders to address the water challenges across our communities and help the state develop short- and long-term responses to this critical drought situation,” said Heather Cooley, director of the Pacific Institute Water Program.
Bank of America's new pilot in Inland Empire to transition traditional landscaping to xeriscaping builds on existing water-management efforts currently in place at more than 100 of its properties that have partial xeriscaping. The Bank estimates a total water savings of more than three million gallons annually, or roughly 50 percent of current use, which is equivalent to the annual water usage of approximately 60 Californians. It will assess the results of this pilot when considering expansion of full xeriscaping to other sites.
The transition to xeriscaping will include:
- Removal of lawn grasses and the introduction of native and adapted plants, which require less water and are more capable of withstanding drought conditions.
- Flower beds mulched to reduce the need for extra watering.
- Modification of irrigation systems to more efficient drip delivery or micro-emitters.
Most of the Bank’s water usage comes from bathroom fixtures, irrigation systems and HVAC equipment such as cooling towers. By 2015, the B of A aims to reduce its water usage by 20 percent through:
- Irrigation controls and fixture upgrades.
- Low-flow (0.5 gallons per minute), low-cost, in-sink faucets.
- Employee water leak detection and reporting program.
While the statewide education campaign Energy Upgrade California, launched in May, is attempting to help wrangle Californians into managing their energy and water usage, other companies in the state are also doing their bit to reduce their water consumption during the drought –tech giants Google, eBay and Adobe have taken measures including low-flow faucets and urinal cakes, cooling their servers with fans and using recycled water to irrigate landscaping. native plants and drip-irrigation systems.