Assumptions about the future of the green industry

By Tom Delaney

When we examine the condition of the green care industry and its future, we need to think about trends, and then make our assumptions or predictions about those trends. The main areas that we should take into consideration are as follows: demographics, politics/societal values, legislation/regulations, and technology/science. At a recent meeting of key industry decision-makers, the following assumptions about the future were noted for each of these categories. These items are worth contemplating, and we should consider the “what if” scenarios and how we would plan for them in our businesses.

Demographics (assumptions about the future)

  • Consumers will continue to become more sophisticated.
  • Baby boomers are aging and will likely spawn more retirement communities.
  • Different demographics will likely have differing needs.
  • The use and speed of technology will continue to increase.
  • Labor needs will change and workers will be savvier.

Politics/societal values (assumptions about the future)

  • Children will not understand the value of managed green spaces in the environment.
  • Businesses will have to prove themselves and their value and enhance their standards.
  • There is an ebb and flow with the dominant party controlling resources and agenda.
  • The environmental movement is not going away.
  • There are limited resources and that will continue to be a problem.
  • There is great concern about the health and safety of children.
  • There is a bombardment of information.
  • There is continued demonization of business
  • There will be continued concerns around chemical and water issues.

Legislation/regulations (assumptions about the future)

  • There will likely be more prescriptive use of products, services and equipment.
  • Demographics and immigration will impact labor within the industry.
  • There will likely be shrinking of natural resources such as water and land.
  • There could be clashes between urban, suburban and rural communities over resources.
  • Energy costs will continue to escalate.
  • There will be increased intrusion from government and regulators.
  • There will likely be even more business and environmental restrictions.

Technology/science (assumptions about the future)

  • There will be limitations on and/or banning of pesticides, certain nutrients and fertilizers.
  • There will be greater restrictions on equipment use for noise and emissions.
  • There will likely be greater use of robots as mowers.
  • There will be greater office automation.
  • Technology will be used to track soil moisture, humidity levels, and ambient air temperature; and you will be able to monitor and measure these from the office via off-site monitoring.
  • It will be necessary to monitor traffic to plan routes accordingly, GPS to track employee behavior and also for liability.
  • There will be greater use of solar energy.
  • Green technologies will be employed (i.e., rain gardens, green roofs, and Smart controllers).

We should not view future assumptions as negatives for our industry; we can have a major affect on our reality by how we act or change before they can become real. We will all have to be more responsible as stewards, be more sustainable, and work with all green industry sectors to get everyone involved in the decision-making process at the federal, state, and local levels so we have the biggest impact on our future.

Tom Delaney is director of government affairs at the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET).

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