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ASLA Named to List of Professional Societies Most Engaged on Climate Issues

ASLA will convene a blue-ribbon panel on the subject later this year.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is one of nine exemplar organizations exhibiting the most comprehensive approaches to educating and engaging their members regarding climate change, according to a report by the Kresge Foundation.

The Kresge report, “Professional Societies and Climate Change,” analyzes how professional societies are helping their members integrate climate change into their thinking and decision-making. Researchers found that the professional societies most engaged on climate issues recognize the substantial impacts that climate change will have on their missions and membership.

ASLA has identified climate change as a key issue for its members, according to ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA.

“ASLA is honored to be recognized by the Kresge Foundation,” says Somerville. “Most landscape architects acknowledge the reality of climate change, and as a result their work helps make communities more resilient and better able to recover from disruptive climate events.”

The Society provides substantial climate mitigation resources, including a policy statement on climate change and a code of environmental ethics; a Professional Practice Network focused on Sustainable Design and Development; a webpage on combating climate change with numerous mitigation-related resources; a resource guide on increasing energy efficiency and an energy efficient home landscapes animation. Various articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) and The Dirt blog are related to mitigation, such as a 2014 post on “How to Create a Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Plan.” In addition, a working group was formed to provide input on model codes within ASHRAE 189.1 specific to site sustainability and water use.

Climate adaption resources developed by ASLA include resource centers for critical issues like stormwater; resource guides on topics like green infrastructure, livable communities, and sustainable transportation, as well as and a new Guide to Resilient Design.

ASLA works with educators and schools through the Council of Educators of Landscape Architecture. ASLA’s “Landscape Architecture Continuing Education System” (LA CES™) has offered courses on adaptation, such as the 2012 “Landscape Systems, Urban Heat Island, and Climate Change: a Landscape Architecture Approach to Adapt.” The Society helped to develop The Sustainable SITES Initiative™ (SITES®), a rating system for the sustainable design, construction and maintenance of landscapes now owned by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).

The Society is also engaged in political advocacy and public education on the topic of resilience and social justice. It will convene an interdisciplinary, blue-ribbon task force later this year to develop climate change- and resilience-related public policy recommendations.

In addition to ASLA, other professional societies on the list include the American Planning Association, the American Public Health Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the American Water Works Association, the International City/County Management Association, National League of Cities, the National Medical Association, and the Urban Land Institute.

The report was authored by independent climate-adaptation consultant Dr. Missy Stults and Ph.D. researcher and consultant Sara Meerow.

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