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Green Specs
Evaluating the environmental impacts of building materials.
By Meg Calkins, ASLA

Landscape architects are increasingly employing green strategies in their work, from the use of native plants to innovative stormwater management techniques. These are preliminary results of a nationwide Green Building Practice Survey of landscape architects, undertaken by the University of Illinois in association with ASLA. But many landscape architects do not give as much consideration to the environmental impacts of the materials and products they specify, or place an emphasis on using "green" materials.

Some landscape architects are just not aware of the huge environmental impacts that some building materials have on the earth. These impacts are often difficult to see. The impact of destroying a wetland on the site can be clearly understood, but it is difficult to see damage to the ozone layer from CO2 released during concrete manufacture, or destruction of a rain forest halfway around the world from bauxite mining for aluminum.

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