April 2 2019 12:00 AM

Smart controllers and flow sensors cut down on the university’s use of water.

Yale University

One Ivy League university is going to the head of the sustainability class, at least as far as watering its ivy (and other plants) goes. According to a story in Yale News, Joe Signore, who supervises landscaping and grounds for the downtown area of the central campus, has installed smart irrigation systems to decrease the amount of water used to keep the grounds green. It’s also reduced the flow of cash needed to pay for that water.

The technology, familiar to landscape and irrigation contractors, uses weather-based smart controllers that can be accessed through a smartphone app. The app, connected to local weather stations, will halt irrigation if rain is predicted.

The water-saving efforts don’t stop there. In addition, lawns in four of the school’s residential colleges are getting the benefit of flow-sensing technology. Flow-sensing valves in the main pipes track unusually high water output and automatically shuts the system off. Signore and his team are sent alerts over their smartphones that something is broken or not functioning properly.

Yale’s groundkeepers are also aerating the campus’ lawns more, reducing soil compaction in high-traffic areas. More frequent aeration makes the smart irrigation practices even more effective.

As the lawns on campus are gathering and recreational spaces, Signore says it’s important to ensure that any maintenance efforts on them are done safely with limited impact on the environment, in keeping with the university’s commitment to building a more sustainable world. As smart irrigation practices continue to be expanded to other parts of campus, he and the rest of the grounds maintenance team will continue to promote positive stewardship practices.