2023 Survey: Reducing Climate and Biodiversity Impacts of Products in Landscape Architecture Projects

454 member landscape architects, designers, and educators responded to the survey in the month of June 2023. ASLA has approximately 15,000 members. 

Are your clients establishing a greenhouse gas emissions budget for your projects?

For no projects - 55%
I have heard this could be a future possibility - 20%
For 0-25 percent of projects - 19%
For 25-50 percent of projects - 2%
For every project I work on - 2%
For 50-75 percent of projects - 1%

What third-party verified data would most help you account for greenhouse gas emissions associated from products?

Embodied carbon factors for materials - 51%
Projected carbon sequestration by species for specifying trees - 50%
Greenhouse gas emissions of products' entire lifecycle - 47%
Greenhouse gas emissions for transportation products to project site - 43%
Greenhouse gas emissions savings for innovative materials - 40%
Embodied carbon data for trees and plants - 39%
Greenhouse gas emissions savings for low-carbon transportation - 35%
Carbon stored in wood furnishings and structures - 30%

Additional comments from the landscape architecture community:

“Greenhouse gas emissions or savings broken down by lifecycle phase – manufacturing, installation, period of use, etc.”

“I'm more interested in trade-offs rather than products, like what can I save to reduce emissions.”

What would make it easier to find information on EPDs and product emissions assessments?

A curated register of baseline data (developed by ASLA or another organization) - 55%
A landscape-specific EPD aggregator website - 49%
Adding a landscape category to an existing EPD aggregator website - 38%
Including EPD data in product directories - 38%

What kind of data do you currently request from product manufacturers?

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certification - 34%
EPA Energy Star Certification - 32%
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), meeting 29 CFR 1910.1200 - 25%
EPA Watersense Certification - 25%
Chain of Custody (CoC) for wood products - 16%
SCS Recycled Content Certification or other recycled content certifications - 16%
Rainforest Alliance Certification - 14%
Environmental Product Data Sheet (EDS), meeting 40 CFR 63.801 - 13%
Cradle to Cradle Certification - 12%
Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) Products or Product Line - 11%

When do you ask product manufacturers for environmental product declarations (EPDs) or other third-party verified environmental data?

I don't ask for third-party verified data at any stage - 44%
Design development - 30%
Construction documents and spec writing - 30%
Planning or concept stages - 18%
As submittals during construction administration - 18%
Schematic design - 17%

For which products would you buy local (within 250 miles) to reduce transportation emissions, if there was a good option?

Trees - 84%
Aggregates and aggregate stabilization products - 80%
Plants, including seeds and hydroseeds - 80%
Concrete and concrete products (block, pavers, cast stone, etc) - 79%
Soils and soil amendments - 75%
Natural stone - 73%
Brick, tile, and fired masonry products - 69%
Erosion and sediment control products - 65%
Bituminous paving (asphalt and asphalt pavers) - 65%
Fencing or metal fabrications - 64%
Wood or wood products (decking, lumber, structures, etc) - 64%
Drainage or piping - 59%
Furnishings - 55%
Irrigation - 53%
Rainwater harvesting systems (cisterns, rain barrels, vaults) - 50%
Lighting - 49%
Fertilizer and/or pesticides - 48%
Green roof, green wall products - 45%
Play surfaces - 44%
Play equipment - 43%
Artificial turf - 40%
Water features, including fountain equipment - 39%
Renewable energy products (solar panels, wind turbines, etc.) - 37%
Swimming pool and natural swimming pond products - 32%

Additional comments from the landscape architecture community:

“Nearby sourcing is not only a way to reduce transportation emissions but also a way for projects to be more deeply connected to the community.”

“I would specify everything to be local if possible.”

“I factor in locality when sourcing materials and tools for any project. It doesn't always work, as the client might want other materials, but I do present the options when appropriate.”

“State Departments of Transportation have approved product lists for most items. These may result in barriers to purchasing locally for many products other than plants.”

What kind of collaborative research and knowledge sharing with product manufacturers would best advance the goals of decarbonization?

Free webinar series - 55%
Creation of a shared, curated product data library for landscape architects - 48%
Investment in best management practice educational materials for landscape architects, product manufacturers, and construction communities - 39%
Creation of a shared, curated carbon factor dataset for materials that can be used by landscape architects and product manufacturers when more specific EPD or other information is not available - 35%
Regular knowledge sharing sessions with product manufacturers and landscape architects at the ASLA Conference - 33%
Construction Materials educational track at ASLA Conference - 31%
Creation of a new advocacy coalition that can promote low- or zero-emission landscape standards at the state and federal levels - 25%
Development of a new advocacy group for decarbonizing upstream materials, such as cements, metals, plastics, timber, and the transportation systems used by landscape architects and vendors - 24%
Grants to prototype low and zero carbon materials, manufacturing processes - 21%
Interdisciplinary conference with a university LA program on materials research - 16%

Additional comments from the landscape architecture community:

“The simplest way would be to come up with a standardized labeling system similar to the label for nutritional values on food products listing categories of interest to landscape architects.”

“Materials research associated with a university. We need evidence-based data for landscape projects.”

“Research partnerships between manufacturers, professional firms, and universities.”

“A simple diagram listing basic materials, with their effects for site- or project-based purposes, in order to advance the goals of decarbonization.”

“Grants/subsidies to increase affordability of carbon-neutral techniques and products – for example, carbon sequestering pavements and the local production of these kinds of pavements.”

What kind of collaborative research and knowledge sharing with landscape architects and educators would best advance the goals of biodiversity protection?

Free webinar series - 58%
Regular knowledge sharing sessions with other product manufacturers and landscape architects at the ASLA Conference - 40%
Funding industry-wide biodiversity protection product protocols - 35%
Trend analysis on what is happening reducing biodiversity impacts in construction more broadly - 35%
Trend analysis on what is happening on reducing biodiversity impacts during product manufacturing more broadly - 30%
New materials educational conference track at ASLA Conference - 29%
Grants to prototype low and zero biodiversity impact manufacturing processes - 23%
Interdisciplinary conference with a university LA program on biodiversity protection research - 23%
Market research reports - 15%
Grants to fund biodiversity protection at my organization - 13%

Additional comments from the landscape architecture community:

“Mandate the use of Floristic Quality Analysis in NEPA and avoidance of impacts to high quality ecosystems on state- and federally-funded projects.”

“Work directly with and help fund regional biodiversity organizations that are more adept at identifying specific issues affecting biodiversity at a local level.”

“Grants/subsidies to incentivize incorporating restored, functioning habitat in landscape projects.”

“Basic biodiversity education for firm principals and expanded plant, insect knowledge.”

“Advocate for expanding protected areas and preserves around the world. Advocate for compact town and city patterns, including mixed-use, multi-story zoning throughout the U.S.”





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