Professional Practice

Resource Guides

Climate Change and Resilience  |  Health and Well-being  |  Sustainable Planning and Design |  Sustainable Residential Design |  Toolkits for Sustainable Planning and Design Projects


Climate Change and Resilience  

Smart Policies for a Changing Climate (Adaptation, Mitigation, Resilience)
Smart Policies for a Changing Climate (Adaptation, Mitigation, Resilient Design)

Climate change is a threat to people and the ecosystem services on which we depend. Extreme weather events are on the rise. Flooding, drought, and wildfires are more frequent and more severe. Higher temperatures are increasing community health risks. The changing climate is causing species dislocation and accelerating the rate of species extinction. Global agricultural systems are increasingly stressed. These early effects are harbingers of the more severe consequences that science tells us we can expect in the future if we do not act. There are a range of landscape architecture-based strategies that can help communities adapt to a changing climate and become more resilient, while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Explore resources.  


 
Climate Change Mitigation and Landscape Architecture

Landscape architects are helping to shift us to a carbon neutral future. They 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. They defend and expand carbon-sequestering landscapes such as forests, wetlands, and grasslands, helping to drawdown atmospheric carbon dioxide. All of these efforts also enable communities to better adapt to climate change by improving resilience. Explore resources.  


 
Resilient Design

Working with nature -- instead of in opposition to it -- helps communities become more resilient and come back stronger after disruptive natural events. Long-term resilience is about continuously bouncing back and regenerating. It's about learning how to cope with the ever-changing “new normal.” Explore resources.  



Health and Well-being
 

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Health Benefits of Nature

The idea that spending time in nature can make you feel better is intuitive. Many of us have anecdotes of our own or from friends or family that support that idea. People who have been suffering from stress, sickness, or a trauma can spend quiet contemplative time in gardens or taken to the mountains or woods to heal. But nature is not just wilderness. The benefits of nature can also be found in our communities’ parks and green spaces. Explore resources.  


 
Livable communities
Healthy and Livable Communities

Working with landscape architects, communities can promote human health and well-being by encouraging the development of environments that offer rich social, economic, and environmental benefits. Healthy, livable communities all improve the welfare and well-being of people by expanding the range of affordable transportation, employment, and housing choices through "Live, Work, Play" developments; incorporating physical activity into components of daily life; preserving and enhancing valuable natural resources; providing access to affordable, nutritious, and locally produced foods distributed for less cost; and creating a unique sense of community and place. Explore resources.  


 

Sustainable Planning and Design

 
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Green Infrastructure

The idea that nature is also infrastructure isn't new. But it's now more widely understood to be true. Nature can be harnessed to provide critical services for communities, protecting them against flooding or excessive heat, or helping to improve air and water quality, which underpin human and environmental health. When nature is harnessed by people and used as an infrastructural system it's called "green infrastructure." Green infrastructure occurs at all scales. While it's often closely associated with green stormwater management systems, which are smart and cost-effective, it's really bigger than that. Explore resources.  


 
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Transportation

Transportation infrastructure is a vital part of the public realm. It connects us to families, friends, jobs, businesses, education, and recreation. However, conventional approaches to transportation have led to negative outcomes for people and the environment. Landscape architects are on the forefront of creating sustainable transportation systems that are low-emission, active, safe, equitable, resilient, ecological, and beautiful. Explore resources.  


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Sustainable Urban Development

Urban development should be guided by a comprehensive planning and management vision that includes interconnected green space, a multi-modal transportation system, and mixed-use development. Diverse public and private partnerships should be used to create livable communities that protect historic, cultural, and environmental resources. In addition, policymakers, regulators and developers should support sustainable site planning and construction techniques that create a balance between built and natural systems. Explore resources.  
 

Sustainable Residential Design


Improving Water Management
Improving Water Management

Homeowners waste water irrigating their lawns with water that should be reserved for human consumption. Residential landscapes can be designed to both conserve water in times of water scarcity and reduce flooding during storms by using green infrastructure approaches, like bioswales and bioretention ponds; rain gardens; rain water harvesting; water recycling; and drip irrigation to better manage water. Explore resources.


 
Increasing energy Efficiency
Increasing Energy Efficiency

Inefficient home energy use is not only costly, but also contributes to the growth of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the major cause of climate change. Sustainable residential landscape architecture can increase energy efficiency and dramatically reduce energy costs over the long term while creating a healthy residential environment. Explore resources.  


 
Maximizing the Benefits of Plants
Applying Ecological Design

Plants are central to a functioning global ecosystem. Homeowners can use native plants to reduce the use of excess water, energy, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides that damage natural ecosystems. Sustainable residential landscape architecture practices can help build a network of productive landscapes by using native plants communities to reconnect fragmented ecosystems in residential areas. Explore resources.  


 
Using Low-impact Materials
Using Low-impact Materials

New and non-recyclable materials used in homes and landscapes consume enormous amounts of resources to produce and distribute and create additional waste when they are demolished. Sustainable residential landscape design can significantly increase the quality of the environment through the use of innovative low-impact materials that are permeable, recycled, recyclable, reflective (high albedo), and non-toxic. Explore resources.  

 

Toolkits for Sustainable Planning and Design Projects  

Economic Models
Economic Project Toolkit

This toolkit focuses on economic sustainability, which involves the development of a healthy economy that supports and sustains people and the environment over the long-term. In a market-driven economy, cost is a deciding factor in determining whether a project moves forward. To be sustainable, projects must not only provide environmental and social benefits, but also offer economic value. Ecosystem service models can also be used to quantify the inherent economic value of services nature already provides for free. Explore resources.  


 
Environmental Models
Environmental Project Toolkit

This toolkit focuses on the environmental side of sustainability, a crucial component in sustainable projects for the built environment. The toolkit is arranged from macro- to micro-scales. It begins with sustainable regional planning, then moves to sustainable cities & communities planning and sustainable neighborhood planning. It ends with site-specific tools related to sustainable landscapes and green buildings. Explore resources.  


 
Social Models
Social Project Toolkit

This toolkit focuses on social sustainability, which involves the development of resilient communities that meet residents' health and social needs over the long-term. In a socially-sustainable community, residents are empowered; have equal access to green, healthy spaces; can choose among multiple transportation options; and enjoy a high quality of life. At all scales, public participation is crucial for ensuring planners and designers keep existing communities in mind and create social value for all citizens. Explore resources.  

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