ASLA releases climate change guide for landscape architects

New guide outlines regional and urban solutions to mitigate climate change
ASLA's guide connects landscape architects with organizations and resources to design sustainable landscapes.

The American Society of Landscape Architects has released a new guide to help landscape architects create designs that mitigate the effects of climate change, the association announced in a blog post on Thursday.

The Climate Change Mitigation and Landscape Architecture guide outlines regional and urban solutions to reduce greenhouse gases and use water more efficiently. It lists organizations and resources that can help landscape architects achieve these goals, and highlights projects that are examples of sustainable design.

[Related: Defensive design for resilient landscapes]

Among those projects is the restoration of a 28-acre property in Colorado by Design Workshop, Inc. The team reintroduced aspen and conifer forests, sagebrush and other vegetation to transform a sand and gravel mining pit into a natural ecosystem.

ASLA enumerated the many ways landscape architects impact the environment.

“Landscape architects are helping to shift us to a carbon neutral future,” according to the guide. “Landscape architects plan and design dense, walkable communities that reduce emissions from transportation and sprawl. They make the built environment more energy and carbon efficient with strategies like green roofs, water-efficient design, and use of sustainable materials and construction practices.”

The guide also includes a section on sustainable landscape materials and construction, noting that even designs that are intended to be more sustainable or carbon neutral “can be a source of significant emissions in their own right.”

ASLA was a key player in developing the Sustainable SITES Initiative, a rating system designed to identify sustainable landscape designs and measure their performance. Among the strategies recommended by the SITES rating system are using recycled or locally sourced materials, and designing for re-use and disassembly.

[Related: Great, wide, open: Bringing the great outdoors to homeowners’ doorsteps]

ASLA noted that “no single strategy that will solve the climate crisis on its own” and called for an “all hands on deck” approach that makes incremental changes wherever possible.

“Achieving a carbon neutral future will only come about through the cumulative effect of countless individual actions. Every one of those individual actions counts,” according to ASLA.

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