Government, businesses and homeowners seeking ways of reducing soaring water bills as well as curbing their carbon emissions have found that major savings can made by landscaping their gardens and common areas with artificial grass.
According to the United Nations, the GCC countries are among the world’s highest per capita water users with UAE residents topping the table by consuming an average of 550 litres a day each, 80% of which is produced by expensive desalination. Between them, Abu Dhabi and Dubai will be investing AED120 billion over the next five years in power plants, desalination units and sewerage systems to meet future demand.
“If a family of four reduced their time in the shower by one minute per day, they would save 11,079 litres of water a year, or filling a bath tub only halfway would save 13,870 litres per annum,” said Markus Oberlin, General Manager of Farnek Avireal, a leading UAE-based company advising building owners on how to dramatically cut their carbon emissions and utility bills.
“Putting that into context, the savings potential for local governments using artificial grass in pubic urban landscaped areas such as road verges, traffic islands and interchanges, must run in to hundreds of millions of Dirhams. It needs 2.5 million litres of water to irrigate a 200 square metre lawn over 40 months, the same amount of water that would fill an Olympic sized swimming pool,” he added. “With a natural garden costing AED40 per square metre per annum to maintain, the cost of installing synthetic grass is paid back in less than four years. Over ten years the savings (on a 200 sqm garden) amount to approximately AED50,000,” added Oberlin.
However it is not just about saving water and saving money. Each square metre of natural grass produces over 9 kilos of carbon dioxide (CO2) through irrigation and regular garden maintenance.
“Modern, low maintenance, natural looking artificial grasses are in widespread use in Europe and North America but are surprisingly rare in the Middle East where maintaining natural grass is much more costly and damaging to the environment,” said Oberlin.
Schools are now becoming increasingly aware of the environmental issues and cost saving to be made by laying the latest simulated turf, for football, rugby and hockey pitches, which also helps to keep school fees at affordable levels.
“Natural grass can also harbour insect colonies, especially mosquitoes which are a major health hazard. Artificial grass doesn’t need to be sprayed with the chemical pesticides that can be harmful to children and animals,” said Oberlin.
“In addition, petrol-powered lawn mowers can cause as much pollution in one hour as 10 cars collectively. It also eliminates grass clippings which are among the biggest landfill contributors to the green house effect,” added Oberlin.