The landscaping industry has emphasized its importance in promoting sustainability as of late, and the public sector is catching on. One indicator of this focus on sustainability comes from the American Society of Landscape Architects. The association named April World Landscape Architecture Month with a focus on how landscape architecture affects people’s lives. Sustainable landscapes have the ability to support and restore an area’s natural environment in a number of ways such as decreasing carbon output, protecting and cleaning the air we breathe and the water we drink, and increasing energy efficiency. As identified in Onvia’s database of government contract awards, the City of Austin in Texas joined ASLA’s Sustainable Site Initiative by awarding five vendors a two-year contract valued at $5 million. The awarded vendors will help aid Austin in designing various sustainable projects across the city – from playgrounds to trails. 3 Examples of Agencies Planning to Design Landscapes for Sustainability and More Some of Austin’s landscape architecture projects, such as those for designing playgrounds and walking trails are geared towards improving livability in the city. Other communities however are using issuing landscape architecture contracts with a focus on protecting against potential problems. Here are 3 examples from Onvia’s Spending Forecast Center of agencies across the country that are beginning to talk about funding for large landscape architecture investments in capital and transportation improvement plans: City of Alexandria in Virginia Approved $61.5 million for flood mitigation and various early-stage projects along the Potomac River. As part of the agency’s FY 2016-2025 Capital Improvement Plan, the funds will go towards designing waterfront landscapes for public spaces. The City Council also approved funds to design the landscape improvements for flood mitigation purposes, such as a continuous riverfront promenade. City of Santa Barbara in California Approved $450,000 for landscape sustainability upgrades in its FY 2016-2021 Capital Improvement Plan. Officials aim to reduce water consumption in the downtown parking lots by replacing existing landscaping and irrigation in the surface lots with drought-tolerant, sustainable landscaping and water conserving irrigation systems. The projects won’t be put out for bid until the drought is over. New Jersey Department of Transportation Set aside $10 million per year over 10 years in its FY 2016-2025 adopted transportation improvement plan for low-cost landscaping architecture improvements that can be finished quickly. The plan notes that some contracts may include small-scale landscape projects to protect areas along highways where the department is limited in its options for sophisticated solutions. What the Growing Public Sector Landscaping Market Means for Staffing Firms Staffing firms should pay attention to these landscaping trends: Along with designing sustainable landscapes, hiring of grounds and maintenance personnel is also a key driver in the public sector landscaping market. A recent article in American City & County cites a study from Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI) which predicted governments to hire more grounds maintenance personnel through 2018, at about 4% annually. The government industry in general is projected to see about 2.4% employment growth, which means that the growth of groundskeepers is on track with the rest of the government sectorLaura Pizzo, Senior Technical Writer at EMSI How to Get Ahead of the Competition and Win More Landscaping Contracts Contractors interested in growing their public sector landscaping sales should first look at capital improvement plans and budgets from local governments, which represent 72% of the plans mentioning grounds maintenance and landscaping projects. For instance, local governments in Florida stood out as a hot area for firms to target, particularly the City of Fort Lauderdale and Broward County which both had the most related budget mentions among cities andlan counties. Landscape architecture, grounds maintenance and staffing firms can find plenty of potential government business throughout the country. To get ahead of the competition, Onvia recommends looking at agencies that have adopted budgets and improvement plans mentioning efforts to improve the sustainability of their landscapes and the hiring of related grounds personnel.