Sustainable ASLA

Sustainable ASLA documents the American Society of Landscape Architects' full commitment to promote sustainable design practices through program initiatives and day-to-day operations, including as a member of the Smarter DC Challenge. Here are some of the ways we practice what we preach:

The Sustainable Sites Initiative

ASLA co-founded and co-developed* the Sustainable Sites Initiative® (SITES®), the nation’s first voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. Now owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SITES is propelling more sustainable planning and resilient design, construction, and maintenance of landscapes. SITES has been adopted by the U.S. General Services Administration and the state of Rhode Island for all capital projects.

*ASLA, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the U.S. Botanic Garden 

Advocating for Sustainable Design Across the U.S. Government

Working with federal and state policy makers and agencies, ASLA Government Affairs increases awareness of the profession and advocates for policies that use landscape architecture to design more sustainable communities.

Landscape architects are also leading the way in planning and designing multimodal transportation corridors, which include bike lanes and paths, sidewalks, and access to public transportation. As a Steering Committee member of the National Complete Streets Coalition, ASLA advocates for a federal Complete Streets policy.

As a member of the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition, ASLA highlights how the building industry is working with federal agencies to increase building energy efficiency.

ASLA has signed on to the 2030 Commitment, a campaign led by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), to reach at least a 50 percent reduction in C02 emission from buildings by 2010, and fully carbon neutral buildings by 2030.

Encouraging Sustainable Design Practices

The ASLA Professional and Student Awards programs highlight sustainable design and planning best practices. Judging criteria requires that jurors consider sustainability when making awards decisions. A number of well-designed projects deemed unsustainable by jurors have failed to receive recognition.

An interview series focused on sustainability creates a broader dialogue on sustainable development through an exchange of ideas with both leading and up-and-coming designers, academics, and policy makers.

"Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes" is an online exhibition featuring sustainability case studies. The case studies serve as a key learning tool for the general public and explain what landscape architects do and the importance of sustainable design. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is supporting the educational aspects of the site.

A blog for landscape architects, The Field, outlines sustainable design solutions for practitioners.

Teaching Sustainable Design

At the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture, attendees learn about cutting-edge sustainable landscape planning and design practices and earn professional development hours (PDH), which are required to maintain licensure. More than 70 percent of courses are focused on sustainable planning, design, construction, and maintenance practices.

Through the Landscape Architecture Accreditation Board (LAAB), an autonomous ASLA committee, ASLA promotes sustainability as a key part of landscape architecture education at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

ASLA won a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to produce "The Roof is Growing!", a green roof education guide.

World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM) highlights the inherent environmental values in landscape architecture each April.

The Dirt Blog and Social Media

The Dirt blog connects design professionals, academia, and policy makers to up-to-date news on the built and natural environments. The Dirt regularly covers green infrastructure, sustainable design, sustainable transportation, and sustainable urban development trends in the U.S. and worldwide.

Conference on Landscape Architecture

ASLA’s commitment to the environment extends to our own practices as we strive to reduce the carbon footprint of our conference. The convention centers, hotels, and event venues in the cities selected, and all of our supplier partners, must demonstrate progress toward improving their operational efficiency and reducing their environmental impact. Here are just a few examples how ASLA and our conference supplier partners are making a difference:

In 2012 ASLA launched our first conference mobile app which has enabled us to significantly reduce our print materials. For those items that we do print, inks are agri-based, made from non-toxic soy and vegetable oils. In addition, all of our meeting handouts are disseminated electronically.

Our transportation provider has an innovative carbon offset shuttle program that provides a negative carbon footprint. They employ the latest technologies to help maximize fuel usage, reduce idle time, and eliminate air drag.

The management system for our annual meeting registration and housing company includes initiatives to measure and control their direct environmental impact in the areas of energy conservation, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste and recycling management.

ASLA’s general contractor is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council. Their sustainability program helps their customers preserve the environment by recycling carpet; re-purposing aluminum products into new components; using biodegradable signage materials; and promoting the use of online ordering.

ASLA is also a member of the Convene Green Alliance, a grass-roots, industry initiative spearheaded by several high-profile associations that seek to encourage positive environmental practices through national, regional and local outreach and education.

ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture

The ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture, the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the American Society of Landscape Architects, is a showcase for sustainable design excellence. The built and natural environment of the office have been designed to be healthy for occupants and environmentally sustainable. 

Green Roof

The ASLA Center for Landscape Architecture is topped with a green roof. The green roof, designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, a leading landscape architecture firm, includes a unique sedum floor covered with a mesh grate that enables visitors to walk over much of the green roof surface. A range of native plants were used, as well as sedum species, which are known to be particularly effective at sequestering carbon dioxide (C02). Some key benefits:

  • Excess water flowing off of the roof is captured in a ground-floor, 700-gallon cistern and used to irrigate the new outdoor patio space, which is filled with native plants and green walls.
  • Data on plant growth and growing conditions are being collected from light sensors and the tagging of plants.
  • No contribution to D.C.'s Urban Heat Island Effect: The green roof has been as much as 59 degrees F cooler than conventional black roofs on neighboring buildings.

Read press coverage or sign up for a private tour

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification

The 12,600-square-foot headquarters, located in the historic Chinatown district of Washington, DC, was built in 1995 and completely renovated in 2016 to achieve LEED Platinum, with a focus on maximizing energy efficiency, occupant comfort, and sustainable design. ASLA is also pursuing WELL Silver certification, with a focus on improving indoor air quality, lighting, nourishment, and promoting active lifestyles. ASLA has been named a Best Workplace for Commuters since 2005.


Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) meets all magazine industry standards for sustainable publishing. LAM has moved to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper. One hundred percent recyclable polywrap is used to protect the magazine from damage during distribution.

LAM began co-mailing with other publications in 2008 to reduce shipping-related C02 emissions.

LAM has been offered digitally through Zinio since April, 2009. ASLA encourages its members to migrate from print to digital versions to cut down shipping-related C02 emissions.

Marketing & Member Outreach

Most of ASLA’s marketing campaigns are conducted via email. Any mailings are printed on 100 percent recycled paper. The Member and Chapter Services department attempts to use email as much as possible to distribute membership renewal and benefit information.


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