Even green building not immune to economic slump

The bad economy has hit real estate developers especially hard. Those that haven’t gone out of business — and many in Chicago and its suburbs already have shut their doors — are scrambling to find ways to save money.

And investing in new technology or services? Forget it.

This holds true even for green measures. Yes, being green is trendy these days. But so is saving money.

Brian Vinchesi knows this. He’s the president of Pepperell, Mass.-based Irrigation Consulting, Inc. His company designs smart irrigation systems, systems designed to use as little water as possible while still keeping landscaping vibrant. When designing landscape plans for businesses and residences, Vinchesi and his fellow company officials rely on high-efficiency nozzles, alternative water sources, weather-based controllers and other smart water application technologies, better known as SWAT.

Vinchesi, like others in his industry, knows that the weak economy has caused many developers and property owners to cut back on smart irrigation planning.

“With the economy, we are still getting people to look at smart irrigation products and techniques,” Vinchesi said. “But not as many people are implementing them. They don’t even care if the technology has a quick payback period. They are worried about short-term capital costs, not long-term paybacks.”

There is some work for Vinchesi, though, right in the Chicago area. His company recently installed a new irrigation system at the Metra train station in the western suburb of West Chicago. This work included adding new plants that require less watering.

Vinchesi is glad to have the work, here in the Chicago area and across the country. But he’s not naive: He knows that the smart irrigation business is in the middle of a slow spot. Until the economy picks up, that isn’t going to change.

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