May 17, 2008 at 4:18 pm #177602Matt LandisParticipant
If scientists are correct, humanity will have to reduce current greenhouse gas emmissions by 80% by the year 2050 (National Geographic Special Report, summer 2008). What can landscape architects and planners do to help achieve this? Even though LEED vertical construction gets most of the attention these days, landscape architects and planners have the ability to influence a much broader audience.
Planning environmentally friendly projects, designing walkable communities, and writing strict design guidelines for new construction are all steps towards smart growth. Our current way of life is going to have to change. We will no longer be able to continue our reliance on fossil fuels, and the effects of this will trickle down to decisions that we as designers make every day.
It is critical to educate ourselves about green initiatives so that we can help to guide our clients about the choices they have to make. Even though some of the technology that is available today may be more expensive to implement now, pushing for renewable energy and moving away from our reliance on automobile transportation is a must. Since we are often on the frontline of new construction, these are decisions that we are faced with daily.
From a project’s location, the design of storm water systems, street design, material selection, community supported agriculture, and trail access…(and much more) we have plenty of tools at hand to help ensure we are doing our part.June 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm #177608Kevin J. GaughanParticipant
This is true…and I think the profession as a whole will be moving quickly in that direction (although I am still sad that architects moved quicker).
If any of you are not aware of the “Sustainable Sites Initiative” it is time to become familiar.
“The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary partnership between the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and a diverse group of stakeholder organizations to develop guidelines and standards for landscape sustainability. The motivation behind this initiative stems from the desire to protect and enhance the ability of landscapes to provide services such as climate regulation, clean air and water, and improved quality of life. Sustainable Sites™ is a cooperative effort with the intention of supplementing existing green building and landscape guidelines as well as becoming a stand-alone tool for site sustainability.”
The guidelines are still in the process of being developed and I believe there will be another draft out in November. It is important that the whole community takes some time to review the document and give them feedback and share your knowledge so that it becomes as comprehensive as possible.June 25, 2008 at 5:57 pm #177607
It changes according to location and topography what mght be done. Folk have only to sign my fee agreement and I will sort them out.
Luv n Lite
PS I don’t work for peanuts let alone freeJune 25, 2008 at 6:12 pm #177606
What would Kevin and the centre advertised like to sustain?
We cannot conserve all on a site as was very often. Sometimes we have to achieve and maintain a midpoint between what was and what may be. What was will, however, be possible elsewhere and the impetus is on us to recognise the different microenvironments, see where they are going and then be careful to get it all right according to our own – not a concrete fan’s or the seed merchants’ – understanding. A pretty artists impression of a flower meadow surrounding a gothic monstrosity is all very well but the average “naturalistic wild flower mix” is both a homogenous, cheap mish-mash and wrong for what the area will become. (Though there are good guys out there and may the force be with them!)
Next you have to consider politics and human nature. Will your meadow be flood proofed if it is on a flood plain? Who will pay for the livestock to maintain it? Will the government allow it to become salt marsh to save money protecting against water level rises and over what period? Maybe the wild flower meadow, to be viable, needs a grey water irrigation system requiring changes in the building plans – or a person with a forked hazel twig to discover a well. All these things and more need considering and clients have to understand both that and the basic truth that few people can consider all the points sensibly. Do not ask a seamstress to design a monastery, employ the right person for the right job.
Luv n Lite
Les BallardJune 25, 2008 at 6:46 pm #177605Matt LandisParticipant
Some good arguments…(I think)…but not sure if I fully understand your point, Les. It does seem a bit pessimistic, overall. I think the times are a changin’….and today’s students (and younger professionals)…are very tuned into innovative trends in design that take into account whole system approaches that I believe you are eluding to. “Do not ask a seamstress to design a monastery”….I hope this is not a jab at asking an LA to take on environmentally friendly designs?!?!
Forgive me if I am misinterpreting your response. Not that hiring a LA is an end all solution, there still needs to be a qualified specialist with each team that can get into the gory details that you mention…such as a wildlife biologist, or stream restoration engineer….but a great deal of responsibility lies in the hands of a Landscape Architect or Planner to educate the client or design team about green initiatives.
The health of our planet and quality of life for future generations depends on these types of specialists being a necessary component to any solid collaboration. I think that we are discussing more than the health of a wildflower meadow. Definitely employ the right person for the right job For planning exercises at both a regional or rural, and local or urban scale….this will often be a landscape architect or planner that specializes in forward thinking.
Human nature and politics are both slowly waking up to our current reality….our dependence on fossil fuels and the corresponding effect on our climate cannot go on forever.June 29, 2008 at 8:55 am #177604Craig CoronatoParticipant
Like business, economies are only healthy when they are growing. Growth includes and maybe requires population. So we have the need to grow in order to be prosperous and we have finite resources on this little planet of ours.. How we reconcile these seemingly contradictory trajectories is the key to longevity.
So here I am working in China this year because they have the best capacity to support large scale design, planning and, yes, environmental projects. There is a phenomenal amount of growth that is contributing to rising demand of world resources and is also to foul water and air. Yet this is part of what has been hoped for China and other emerging nations (India, SE Asia, S America) by the rest of the industrialized world: education, peace, prsoperity, right? And they are doing many of the right things. I have seen more high density communities, non-motorized traffic, mass transit, energy saving devices, green roofs, porous pavers and constructed wetlands here in the last four months than in my career in the US.
So to tie the two rambling thoughts above together. Maybe we can learn from other parts of the world who perceive the US to be fat and wasteful, yet a desirable place to be. By looking at the experiences of other places one can see today the mistakes of the past (eg: weak environmental law) as well as the problems of the future (eg: dense urban population). Our place as landscape architects is to have and understand the tools, and to educate and give our Clients the options: pros and cons, of a smart way to make a little dent in the climate change problem. Because the cumulative effect of “little” solutions over time will be most effective against environmental degradation and climate change.July 21, 2008 at 6:09 pm #177603
So sorry to be obscure then not see this for so long. I do indeed aim the barb at the site owner/client (and architects) who do not pay for the wider or greener minded LA and other experts such as those mentioned. It is the LA that must, of course, take up the baton – or cudgel – and create a sense of place reflecting a more appropriate environment than an architect would with his, her or their limited palette of knowledge outside of their specific field/experience. I feel sure that artists would concede that one might be great at still life but lousy at landscapes or portraits, never mind, say, impressionist, realist or fine detail work, so it is a good idea to have more than one artist on the team. Similarly, the architect should not be afraid of their gem being given a more splendid setting.
The problem, it seems to me, is finding some evidence that all the thoughfulness and LA’s fee will sell more apartments for more money, bring more customers or whatever, than now. I can only guarantee that trees will thrive better in groups, undulating floors will tire mall customers less and letting them identify with areas that have differing personalities – and rest there – will give them a greater impetus to spend more in the remaining time. Similarly, having no clocks and balancing changing natural light levels to maintain starkness, can be discarded as ancient torture techniques and that controlling the environment, to reflect the body clock, may actually make folk feel more at home.
That word “team” has been used and I am so anxious that LAs be given the opportunity to be a part of it more often and that, when they are, they are armed to produce the goods in association, of course, with specialists.
Matt Landis said:Some good arguments…(I think)…but not sure if I fully understand your point, Les. It does seem a bit pessimistic, overall. I think the times are a changin’….and today’s students (and younger professionals)…are very tuned into innovative trends in design that take into account whole system approaches that I believe you are eluding to. “Do not ask a seamstress to design a monastery”….I hope this is not a jab at asking an LA to take on environmentally friendly designs?!?!
Forgive me if I am misinterpreting your response. Not that hiring a LA is an end all solution, there still needs to be a qualified specialist with each team
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