The Green IQ system can help reduce monthly water bills by 60%. The Green IQ system can help reduce monthly water bills by 60%. The Green IQ system can help reduce monthly water bills by 60%. (Photo: GreenIQ)

Can this little gadget help save California from drought?

GreenIQ smart garden controller checks weather forecast, regulates irrigation, saves water.

If action is not taken soon, experts say California could run out of water by next year. But a smart little gizmo called GreenIQ, which hooks up to your garden hose – and home Wi-Fi – could conserve water and your green lawn.

Conventional sprinklers and garden irrigation systems can end up wasting 50% of these systems' water. But GreenIQ could change that. The small green device, now available for sale in the U.S., is about twice the size of a thermostat and can be installed in under 30 minutes. So how does it work? With built-in sensors that communicate with local and regional weather stations, GreenIQ is programmed to know the best time and for how long to water your lawn and garden.

The device, developed and built in Israel, can take action automatically: if it’s about to rain, GreenIQ won’t water that morning. Or if a heat wave is forecast, it will water intermittently at night. And like any new smart home appliance, GreenIQ can be controlled remotely through a dedicated app.

Based on early sales and pilot projects, the company claims it can shave about 60 percent off the monthly water bill. It has already saved millions of gallons of water, and counting. This is good news for cost-conscious companies, especially since GreenIQ is planning to launch a business version by the end of 2015 so corporations can save money on water, too.

Mary J. Leou knows the problem of urban water use well. As the director at New York University's Wallerstein Collaborative for Urban Environmental Education, it’s her mission to connect educational programs to emerging technology so that university students stay ahead of the curve.

Leou tells From The Grapevine that she’d like to bring the GreenIQ device into Manhattan's classrooms, even for younger students, to help teach technology and sustainability in the city: “I feel that smart devices like this can go a long way in helping homeowners and gardeners conserve water and learn to use it wisely,” she says.

“Green technologies like the GreenIQ enable us to better understand our personal and collective carbon and water footprints. This is a critical first step in conservation education and behavior modification,” Leou notes, adding: “Drip irrigation systems and timers don't go far enough in providing feedback loops so that gardeners know how much water is actually being used. They do not have the ability to monitor environmental factors that need to be considered when watering.”

Judy St. Leger, a VP of research and science at Sea World in San Diego, deals with water issues every day.

“We are homeowners and are always struggling to reduce our water consumption," she says.

St. Leger doesn't have grass on her property but waters her drought-tolerant plants when needed. The new GreenIQ system seems to her “like a child prodigy of existing water saving systems on the market.”

She’d previously bought a system to manage her water use and was locked in with heavy monthly fees to keep her system “smart” and saving her water. A new, cost-effective tool like the GreenIQ would not only be good for the people who insist to keep their lawn during a drought, but anyone who needs to water their plants, she says. Because even drought-resistant plants need water: "If there is a water-saving way to do that, it would be valuable to every homeowner."


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