While city planners press developers to put “green roofs” on new buildings, one shopping center has taken a simpler route to reducing runoff. Eight rain barrels installed at the ends of downspouts in Westgate shopping center are “harvesting” as much as 6,000 gallons of water per year, according to Jody Mendelson, who supervises the property for its owner, JDP Management.

Each barrel holds about forty-five gallons, and Mendelson, who installed them three years ago, estimates they fill up about sixteen times between April and November. That’s more than enough to slake the thirst of the Bradford pear trees that adorn the center’s parking lot and the flower-filled planters lining its sidewalk.

“My main goal was to use water without taking it from the city,” Mendelson says. He says his biggest challenge was maintaining the barrels through the winter–he solved that by rigging each one with a heating coil to prevent freezing. And he’s not done yet: Mendelson is thinking about adding more barrels and putting in additional planters to catch more runoff.

“I always like to be creative,” he says. “My next thing is: how am I going to use the winter winds?”