Living Landscape Laboratory

At APCC’s home in Dennis, we consider the grounds to be our Living Landscape Laboratory. Here, the public is invited to view ways they can better steward their land. Visitors can observe different means to manage stormwater; see displays of native plants integrated into an existing landscape; learn about various approaches to convert lawn area to native plantings; see energy and water conservation methods in use; and learn more about composting and chemical-free land care practices.

The Living Landscape Laboratory is our prime educational venue where we are making efforts to practice what we preach in being good stewards of the land and water. We endeavor to employ environmentally-friendly sustainable practices to demonstrate to those who visit what they can do on their own piece of Cape Cod.

Why Sustainability is Important

Sustainability is the cornerstone of the environmental ethic. It means putting the environment first in everything we do by making educated choices to reduce energy consumption, water consumption, reduce our carbon footprint and be good stewards of the land. Through reducing, recycling, reusing and conserving, we are placing less of a burden on the environment and our natural resources.

As we manage our new office, both inside and out, we make every effort to examine our choices so we might serve as an example of what it means to live sustainably.

What We Are Doing at APCC Headquarters

Waste Reduction: We strive to minimize office paper use by doing as much as we can digitally, only printing documents when necessary. We are cognizant about our choices in purchasing products.

Composting: We compost all our food waste on site with a homemade anaerobic compost system. We also compost yard debris through a larger composting system made of wooden pallets.

Recycling: All recyclables are taken to the Dennis Transfer Station, and we strive for a goal of zero waste.

Reuse and Repurposing: We purchase paper products with 50% or more recycled content. Where possible we’ve sought used garden tools instead of purchasing new. Our vegetable garden features repurposing.

Water Conservation: We have installed several rain barrels at our gutter downspouts to catch rainwater from the roof, which we use to water plants. Rainwater is free, it’s preferred by plants and it conserves potable water that takes energy to pull from the ground.

Sustainable Gardening: We’ve planted a vegetable garden to promote local food production.

Stormwater Management: Our handicapped parking spot and path are made of porous pave®, an asphalt alternative made of recycled tires. This new application allows rainwater to drain through and soak into the ground where it falls. This is an example of how to best manage stormwater, which carries harmful pollutants into our rivers, streams, ponds, and the ocean.

In September 2016, we installed a rain garden to capture roof runoff from one of the gutter downspouts.

Ecologically-friendly Landscape: We are integrating native plants into the existing landscape and making efforts to reduce existing lawn area that we don’t need. Once the native species are established, we won’t need to water them and, ultimately, our labor will be reduced. Native species support the local ecology. The plants we choose provide nectar for pollinators; seeds and berries for birds; and are attractive.

Eco-Land Care Practices: We use a push-mower to mow the lawn which means carbon monoxide emissions of a gas-powered mower are avoided and someone gets a little more exercise! Reduction of our expansive lawn area began in spring of 2017, using methods of solarization and mulch layering, where we’ll plant with native shrubs and herbaceous plants.

Energy Efficiency: We use energy-efficient lightbulbs and turn off lights and computers when not in use. A new high energy efficient heating/cooling system has been installed that allows us to only cool/heat those rooms in use. Staff is able to work from home, which cuts down on our carbon gas emissions from commuting.

What We Have Planned on Our Wishlist

Solar Panels: The renovation of the barn into APCC’s education center will allow us to install solar panels on the roof, which will power the education center as well as much of our office energy needs.

Composting Toilets: Installing composting toilets in the education center will serve to show visitors this method of dealing with waste.

Green Roof: We are exploring the potential of installing a green roof on the shed. A green roof is made of a selection of plants that will absorb rainwater, add an area of vegetation to mitigate for the building and will add interest to our grounds. In larger applications, a green roof can reduce energy usage by regulating interior temperatures of the building and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Cistern: As part of the barn conversion into an education center, the rainwater that falls on the large roof area will be captured in a cistern. The water will be available for use in expanded gardens and for other water needs where potable town water is not necessary.

Additional Lawn Reduction: Our goal is to plant up the front yard with various native plants, appropriate for partial shade and sun incorporating both shrubs and perennials, leaving existing lawn for grass footpaths. Once established, our labor will be reduced, water infiltration will be improved and there will be greater plant diversity for wildlife and human interests.

Additional Rain Garden: A second rain garden is contemplated for another downspout on the north corner of the office building. This location is shaded and will contain different plant species than in the rain garden on the southeast side.