Mainstreaming Sustainable Landscapes in the East Bay Municipal Utility District
Water suppliers in arid and Mediterranean regions of the United States have invested heavily in incentive programs to replace water-thirsty lawn with climate-appropriate plants and landscapes. These “sustainable landscapes” can thrive on a fraction of the water required by lawns and reap water savings that increase with time, representing an important opportunity for water conservation. Yet even the most successful lawn conversion program cannot expect to replace the largest irrigated crop in the United States with rebated lawn conversions alone. Underlying the design of and heavy investment in lawn conversion programs is an ambitious end-goal: to transform the landscaping market away from lawns, and mainstream sustainable landscapes.
Using a market transformation framework, this study investigates the geographic variation of reported attitudes (aesthetic preference and willingness to replace lawn) and lawn conversion rates, as indicators of landscape transformation, across the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). The difference between 2014 and 2017 customer acceptance and lawn conversion rates show growth during drought years, especially in cities with higher rebates participation rates. This research provides a method evaluate landscape transformation indicators to develop strategies to hasten the adoption of region-wide sustainable landscaping.