Climate Positive Design: Pathfinder 2.0

by Pamela Conrad, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP, and Paulina Tran, Affiliate ASLA

image: CMG Landscape Architecture

Climate change is front and center as the world is experiencing unprecedented natural disasters, wreaking devastating, visible impacts on our society and the planet.

CMG Landscape Architecture Principal Pamela Conrad and her team of landscape architects, environmental designers, data scientists, and tech gurus continues to advance Climate Positive Design—a movement to improve the carbon impact of the built environment through collective action. Since its launch in the fall of 2019, Climate Positive Design provides accessible tools, guidance, and resources to have a positive impact on climate change.

Pathfinder 2.0

Available on, the Pathfinder is a free web-based app that provides project-specific guidance on reducing carbon footprints while increasing carbon sequestration. Users receive instant carbon feedback and a Climate Positive Scorecard with detailed statistics that can be plugged directly into Life Cycle Assessments (LCAs) and design suggestions to improve carbon impacts.

Pathfinder 2.0 was released August 2020 with new features and improvements since the initial launch on September 30, 2019 that include:

  • Metric units
  • Addition of custom material, plant, and operational inputs
  • Comparison of design alternatives
  • Analysis of existing conditions
  • Understanding site impacts
  • Grading impacts
  • Existing tree impacts (cutting down trees, mulching, converting into timber and site furnishings or biochar)
  • Soil amendment or import

To learn more about Climate Positive Design’s Pathfinder 2.0, register now to join us on September 30.

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Outstanding Service: Going Above and Beyond

image: EPNAC

A vibrant community of volunteers are the heart of ASLA’s culture of collaboration: the Society is “devoted to the encouragement of volunteerism and benefiting from the expertise and creativity of members who give their time and energies to advance the Society and the profession.” The ASLA Outstanding Service Award program recognizes ASLA member volunteers who are making notable contributions to or on behalf of the Society at the national level.

In memory of the late Mary Hanson, Hon. ASLA, and her 20 years of service to the Society and profession as ASLA’s corporate secretary, each year we present Outstanding Service Awards to volunteers whose dedication goes above and beyond the call of duty. The Society could not function without the selfless work of volunteers in every chapter and at the national level.

ASLA trustees, committee and PPN chairs and members, ASLA representatives, and other volunteers involved in the work of the Society at the national level are eligible for the award.

Recipients have included:

  • 2019: David Cutter, ASLA, and April Westcott, ASLA
  • 2018: Lisa Horne, ASLA, and Thomas Nieman, FASLA

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Safe, Secure, and Resilient: Overseas Buildings Operations

ASLA 2019 Professional Award of Excellence in Research. Site Commissioning: Proving Triple-Bottom-Line Landscape Performance at a National Scale. Andropogon. / image: Andropogon

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) will host a virtual meeting of the Industry Advisory Group next week, and the general public is welcome to attend (registration required):

OBO’s Annual Industry Advisory Group Meeting
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
1:00 – 4:00 p.m. (Eastern)
Register now

OBO’s Industry Advisory Group is comprised of professionals from architecture, real estate, urban design, landscape architecture, historic preservation, interior design, graphic design, construction, engineering, and facilities management. 2019-2021 members include James Burnett, FASLA, Susannah Drake, Judith Nitsch, Hon. ASLA, Carol Ross Barney, Hon. ASLA, and Marion Weiss, Affil. ASLA.

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Extending Education through Travel, Local and Otherwise

by Lisa Casey, ASLA, PLA, LEED AP BD+C

Sketch of street art in Deep Ellum, Dallas
Street art in Deep Ellum, Dallas / image: Lisa Casey

During a student visit to the landscape architecture firm OvS in Washington, D.C., one summer day many years ago, the strongest impression came from hundreds upon hundreds of slides from images of van Sweden’s travels in Europe all perfectly organized in a room. Travel is often touted as an educational tool in the profession of landscape architecture, but exactly how to benefit from it is often left unexplained. In a series of essays on The Art of Travel the philosopher Alain de Botton takes a critical eye to these aspects of travel. One essay in particular on “Possessing Beauty” reveals a connection between touring and creative work.

De Botton observes that after experiencing a moment of beauty, inspiration, or truth, it is a naturally human impulse to want to keep it and to give it a sense of respect within our life. One option is to take a photograph with our phone, but such a casual tool often fails to capture the essence of what we found so uniquely inspiring in that moment. Another option is to purchase a postcard, tchotchke, or T-shirt. De Botton draws on the perspective of the nineteenth century British artist and poet John Ruskin, who exhorted the British people to take in beauty through sketches and ‘word-painting’ instead. Through identifying the sources of attraction to a beautiful space, we can own it within ourselves.

With touching vulnerability de Botton shares with us about his quirky adventure in sketching a hotel window and composing a word painting of an office park. He does not share the results except to assure us that they are both quite bad, but that is not the point. Ruskin preferred the thoughtful seeing behind a poorly executed sketch more than the reverse. De Botton presents himself as the average human with a desire to appreciate the beauty around him and demonstrate that we can all do the same.

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Ancient History Revisited, Part 2

by Alec Hawley, ASLA

Map of the City and County of San Francisco drawn for the San Francisco News Letter and the Pacific Mining Journal by James Butler, 1864. Park overlap – Olmsted proposal: 120 properties; Olmsted’s successor William Hammond Hall’s proposal: 14 properties. / image: David Rumsey Map Collection

Revisiting the lost plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and the history of San Francisco’s most iconic park to imagine what might be

For the first installment in this series, please see Ancient History Revisited, published on The Field last week.

While the supervisors and mayor of San Francisco were focused on directing development of San Francisco outwards to the Pacific Ocean, where land could be acquired relatively easily for their purposes, Frederick Law Olmsted’s report, to the contrary, wished to develop a park in what is now known as Lower Haight / Hayes Valley and City Hall, with a broad parkway connecting the Bay to the interior, along what is now Van Ness Ave.

Olmsted’s chief argument was a practical one, depicting the extreme challenges that San Francisco would face with the possibility of a Central Park-sized pleasure ground and Sylvan aesthetic.

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Volunteers Needed for MasterSpec Review Committee

Precise drawing with ruler
image: Tamarcus Brown on Unsplash

Apply now to represent ASLA in the review of the MasterSpec landscape architecture library.

ASLA is seeking four to six members to join the MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee, a working group within the ASLA Professional Practice Committee.

The MasterSpec Landscape Architecture Review Committee (MLARC) members will represent ASLA in the review of the Landscape Architecture Library and volunteer their time in support of MasterSpec. We are seeking licensed practitioners experienced with MasterSpec to volunteer for a two-year term on the MLARC.

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Ancient History Revisited

by Alec Hawley, ASLA

Images: Willard Worden, courtesy wnp15.366 (left); Alec Hawley (right)

Revisiting the lost plans of Frederick Law Olmsted and the history of San Francisco’s most iconic park to imagine what might be

“No city in the world needs such recreation grounds more than San Francisco. A great Park, or—what is more practical—a series of small parks, connected by varied and ornamental avenues, where people can drive, ride, and walk, free from the dust and noise, is the great want of this city.”

– Frederick Law Olmsted. Preliminary report in regard to a plan of public pleasure grounds for the City of San Francisco. Olmsted, Vaux & Co. 1866

Why revisit plans and thoughts that are more than a century and a half old in the midst of a crisis that deserves immediate attention, and safe access for all to public space? What purpose do we find to look back and analyze the origins of the City by the Bay and imagine this debate now that San Francisco is a globalized metropolis of nearly one million? What could be learned by revisiting an era when more than half the city was tidal marsh and sand dunes with a minuscule fort, a mission, and small port of trade? Could we, in this bleak hour, find the advice there to guide our path for shaping space in the contemporary urban life of the San Francisco that we seek?

We are all collectively seeking room to breathe right now. It is not a mystery why streets, gardens, and parks have become so vital and primary in the consciousness of 2020. Schools, businesses, airports, and factories have been shuttered, opened, and some closed again for months, as we try to manage a global pandemic that is destroying our communities. The only remaining space to escape outside of our homes are our shared streets and public parks. Where better to go than to explore our city’s origins, when our daily lives are in upheaval, to see if even a shred of insight lingers to help ease our current condition, which may well become a new era in landscape and urban planning.

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Students & Educators: Step Up to the Campus RainWorks Challenge

Florida International University’s entry, Coastal Eco-Waters: Adapting for a Resilient Campus, won first place in the master plan category of the 2019 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: Florida International University Design Board

Registration for the ninth annual U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Campus RainWorks Challenge is open now through October 1, 2020.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is a green infrastructure design competition that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals, foster a dialogue about the need for innovative stormwater management, and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

The Campus RainWorks Challenge is open to institutions of higher education across the United States and its territories. With the support of a faculty advisor, teams that compete are asked to design an innovative green infrastructure project for their campus that effectively manages stormwater pollution and also provides additional benefits to the campus community and environment.

To learn more about the competition and hear from faculty and students that have previously participated, please register for this week’s free webcast:

Thursday, September 3, 2020
1:00 – 2:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Register Now


  • Bo Yang, PhD, ASLA, PLA, AICP, Professor of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning in the College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture at the University of Arizona.
  • Matthew Lutheran, MLA, ISA Certified Arborist and Restoration Program Manager for the Tucson Audubon Society. Matthew graduated from the University of Arizona College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture in 2019 with a Masters in Landscape Architecture and was a member of the (Re)Searching for a Spot team, a demonstration project winner in the 2018 Campus RainWorks Challenge.

ASLA is a proud supporter of the EPA Campus RainWorks Challenge, and ASLA members participate as jurors during the review process. If you are interested in volunteering as a juror, please contact

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Give Back: Become a Mentor

image: iStock

On a Professional Practice Networks (PPNs) survey, we asked members to share one essential lesson learned from a mentor (see LAND for a recap of the responses), and many of the answers reflected heartfelt gratitude for a helpful or transformative insight shared. Many professionals cite the importance of mentorship at different points in their careers. As students and emerging professionals navigate the impacts on the profession during the COVID-19 crisis, mentorship can play an even larger role, as a source of guidance and reassurance during these uncertain times.

The 2020 ASLA Mentorship Program launched in conjunction with the announcement of free ASLA membership for students this spring. The goal the program is to foster relationships between students and seasoned professionals that allows both parties to increase their understanding of the many facets of landscape architecture.

While many students have eagerly signed up, we are looking for more mentors to step up. What do you need to be a mentor? Just a minimum of five years of experience, and a willingness to be engaged. If you’ve benefited from the guidance of a mentor, now is the time to give back to the landscape architecture community by taking on that role. Prospective mentors are invited to sign up by August 31 so new student members can get paired with a mentor.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA: The Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden
Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden. A spacious curved trellis serves as a welcoming transition from the elementary school to the garden. The adjacent activity space, an oval “lawn” of resilient paving, features a variety of fixed and movable seating choices. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

The Children’s Outdoor Environments Professional Practice Network (PPN) is honored to share the second part of my interview with David Kamp, FASLA, whose influential work is held in the highest esteem in the design, planning, and environmental psychology community. (Please see the first installment, covering what shaped David’s design philosophy, here.)

Representative Projects

Your portfolio of projects is amazing. Could you share your thoughts about several that provided you the foundation to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden?

I realize that much of what I have shared with you deals with health. Building health through a stronger connection with nature, which strengthens connections to ourselves, our communities, and the larger world, is the foundation to all our projects. That includes our work with children—whether it is designing a universal access trail system for an environmental education center, dealing with the trauma of neo-natal intensive care for parents and well siblings, a public garden that engages everyone regardless of age or condition, or an international campus that welcomes children from a dozen different cultures. All of these perspectives deal with celebrating the wonder and delight of nature and using that resonating “connectiveness” to open up new worlds for kids to explore. Receiving the commission for the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, we had a rich and nuanced perspective to draw upon for the collaboration.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 3

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

K Street Mall, Sacramento
K Street Mall, Sacramento, CA. K Street was converted to an unsuccessful pedestrian mall in the 1960s. When light rail was introduced to Sacramento in the mid-1970s, K Street was transformed into a thriving pedestrian/transit mall. CHNMB, with Byron as Principal-in-Charge, was the lead design consultant to Caltrans. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career, and the second installment for Byron’s time at CHNMB and Amphion.

Career in Teaching

In ’79, when I was working on the K Street Mall, still as CHNMB, I had given a presentation up in Sacramento and met Rob Thayer. Probably two or three weeks later, Dave Johnson in our office said they were looking for someone to teach grading and drainage at UC Davis. We were slow at the time and he thought I could probably do that. I had never taught before; I thought, I wouldn’t know what to do! Dave said, “You teach all the time in the office. You know what you’re talking about, students would love it.” I literally had never thought about teaching. I definitely knew how to grade and drain, and a lot of people don’t when they get into an office. I contacted Rob (who founded the landscape architecture program at Davis) and he said, “You’ll be perfect. We’ll give you a great TA who’s already taken the course, and a workbook you can use.” I got Rich Untermann’s book, The Principles of Grading and Drainage. There were an awful lot of generalizations in it; it gets people started, but doesn’t take it very far, so I began to modify and make up my own exercises. One of the hardest things to do is to create exercises or problems. I would do one and think this is going to get exactly what I want; then I’m in the middle of doing it and a student would ask about an element I hadn’t planned on introducing yet.

I taught the course that first time, and Rob asked if I wanted to do it again. He said I got great reviews, and I enjoyed it. I was teaching one half-day, two days a week. The first time I taught I didn’t even get paid; I gave the money back to the office because I didn’t take the time off. In ’81 the department asked me if I wanted to teach two courses. Skip Mezger, ASLA, and I taught together; it was a hands-on thing. We spent an hour talking about theory of construction and then we’d work for a couple hours doing projects on campus, or sometimes we’d just go hammer some nails. It was like taking city people to the country—it was good introductory stuff. When I started teaching halftime I cut my salary from the office. That also started me in the retirement system, which at first I didn’t think too much about. That went on for a couple years, then Skip went on to something else, or collectively we decided to change the course a little bit. It was still half days, but I was now teaching two quarters. Then I had a third course. Grading and drainage, detailing and materials, then construction documents. At one point I introduced a professional practice course as a separate course, but they couldn’t find a way to fit it in, so I worked that into construction documents, which seemed to be the place that it fit the best.

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An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Sensory Arts Garden
Within a lush and safe setting, the Sensory Arts Garden fosters curiosity and meaningful interactions and is welcoming to all regardless of ability. / image: Robin Hill (c)

An Interview with David Kamp, FASLA, LF, NA, Founding Partner of Dirtworks Landscape Architecture, PC

I am delighted to share the first of a two-part interview I had with landscape architect David Kamp, FASLA. Having followed his innovative and influential work with great interest for many years, I was fortunate to have worked with David and his team at Dirtworks to design the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden, located in Jupiter, Florida. It remains one of my favorite and most meaningful projects, one that truly meets the needs of children and adults with autism. We will talk about the Els for Autism Sensory Arts Garden in the second part of the interview, to be published here on The Field next week. For now, please enjoy learning about what shaped David’s design philosophy.

Personal History

Please tell us about your firm, when it was founded, and what your vision was.

Early in my career, as one of the designers for Australia’s Parliament House, I saw how design could express a sense of identity both personal and national—and do it at vastly different scales. Working for landscape architect Peter Rolland, FASLA, and a design team headed by Mitchell Giurgola Thorp Architects, the design for Parliament House drew upon an important historic concept whereby the city used its natural topography as a major organizing device. The design made little distinction between architecture and landscape. It is a triumph of the planner’s art, merging built form with landform in a way that is at once natural and monumental, seeking a balance with the existing landscape and morphology of the city.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career, Part 2

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

Freeway Park, Seattle
Freeway Park, Seattle. / image: CHNMB photo courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story. See the first installment of this three-part series for Byron’s education and early career.

Transition Years

The whole time that Lawrence Halprin and Associates (LH&A) existed the office was located at 1620 Montgomery Street, in the waterfront area below Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. In the early 1970s, Larry started an alternative office called Roundhouse, which was located at the train turnaround, just down from Montgomery Street. Roundhouse became what Larry was really interested in, although he was still involved in projects on a request basis. He had written The RSVP Cycles, and was getting more involved in esoteric theories and practices of group dynamics. During this time we began to refine the workshops that we were becoming known for—learning ways to work with groups and help them be more creative, and break down the mindset one came in with. We cut pictures out of magazines and pasted them on the wall; we sketched. We did the “two minute drill” which involved listing five things that are most important to you in one minute—things that first come to mind. Larry did training workshops for those of us who were going to be leading workshops. Larry didn’t lead all the workshops; he led some of the early ones, then several of us took over.

This went on for a couple years, during which time we got the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. Larry got that project through Roundhouse and Larry hired LH&A to do it and manage it, but he was the one in charge. I was assigned as the project manager. I had to negotiate the contract and go to Washington a couple times to meet with senators. This was always a strange project to me because FDR very explicitly said, “I do not want a memorial, give me a rock out in front of the library with my name on it.” Until certain members of his family died, that was the situation, but Congress went ahead and appropriated money for it. That project took twenty-five years—it wasn’t built until the late ’90s and it started in ’72.

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A Call for Landscape Architects to Assist Schools in Creating Outdoor Classrooms

by Jennifer Nitzky, PLA, ASLA, ISA

Nueva School
ASLA 2010 Professional Honor Award in General Design. Nueva School. Hillsborough, CA. Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture. / image: Marion Brenner

Green Schoolyards America (GSA) and their partners are organizing a national COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative around the idea of using outdoor school space, parks, and other outdoor areas as assets as schools make plans to re-open in the fall.

The initiative, led by Sharon Danks, MLA-MCP, CEO of Green Schoolyards America, has created several working groups to develop strategies, ideas, and frameworks to assist schools across the country. This initiative was launched with an online public forum titled “Outdoor Spaces as Essential Assets for School Districts’ COVID-19 Response,” held on June 4, 2020, and co-hosted by Green Schoolyards America, The Lawrence Hall of Science, San Mateo County Office of Education, and Ten Strands.

Among the working groups developed through this initiative, a new pro bono landscape design assistance program called COVID-19 Emergency Schoolyard Design Volunteers is matching schools with landscape architects and design students.

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Life and Landscape in the Age of Aquarius: Byron McCulley Looks Back on His Career

by Elizabeth Boults, ASLA

The Halprin Gang
The Halprin Gang, late 1960s. Byron is in the striped shirt, center, below a waving Larry Halprin. / image: courtesy of Byron McCulley

E. Byron McCulley, FASLA, has been witness and instigator to some of the most exciting innovations and developments in bay area landscape architecture for nearly five decades. His contributions through teaching and professional practice have helped shape the trajectory of the profession. He sat down with ASLA Northern California Chapter Secretary Elizabeth Boults over the course of several weeks to share his story.

Introduction: Education

My view of landscape architecture, of course, has evolved over the years. I graduated from high school in 1959. The direction we were given was to be an engineer, and if you were smart enough, to be an aerospace engineer; that was the field to go into. I had decent enough grades; I could have probably gone into it easily enough. In the library—libraries still existed then, with books in them!—there were career pamphlets; “be an engineer,” be this or be that. I pulled out the one on engineers and looked at what you needed to do. It had math, math, math, math. I can do math, but I don’t enjoy math, so I thought I’m not going to do engineering. I enjoyed drawing. I was decent at artwork, so I considered maybe something more in an artistic field. I thought seriously about architecture for a while and looked up their pamphlets. Unfortunately architects have to do calculus.

I had done a lot of gardening around our house. My mom really encouraged me to plant flowers. I didn’t know too much about plants, but I had an interest in it. At the time I found landscape architecture, the little brochure said landscape architects do houses, backyards…they do parks, and other sorts of things, but it was pretty much focused on designing people’s backyards. That’s the impression of landscape architecture that I entered UC Berkeley with—I wanted to do people’s backyards.

When I got to school, in those particular days, landscape architecture education started with architecture. You had a couple of introductory landscape courses, but all of the basic design was done through architecture—spatial manipulation, colors, patterns, textures, working with any kind of design philosophy from a very basic standpoint. It was a whole year of just introductory design courses through the architecture department, and those were good. There was a lot of advanced structure to it—structure in terms of form—and we’d been doing these for years. I think it was a good introduction. It opened my eyes; it was a lot more than I ever thought it was going to be.

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Measuring Performance: Findings and Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program

by Megan Barnes, Associate ASLA

Arizona State University
Arizona State University Orange Mall Green Infrastructure Project / image: Chingwen Cheng

No matter how sustainability is defined—carbon neutral, net zero water, biodiversity, quality of life—it cannot be achieved without considering landscape.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program is a unique research collaboration and training program for faculty, students, and practitioners. Through CSI, LAF-funded faculty-student research teams work with leading practitioners to document the impacts of exemplary, high-performing landscape projects. Teams develop methods to quantify the environmental, social, and economic benefits of built projects and produce Case Study Briefs for LAF’s Landscape Performance Series. This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Landscape Performance Series, which provides critical information to build capacity to achieve sustainability and transform the way landscape is considered in the design and development process. The Landscape Performance Series’ collection of over 160 Case Study Briefs created through CSI is an essential resource for educators, students, and practitioners seeking to assess progress toward environmental, social, and economic goals based on measurable outcomes.

The projects selected for the 2020 Case Study Investigation program represent a diverse geography and project types. Several projects have been recognized and awarded for their excellence in sustainable design and performance outcomes. Among the selected projects for the 2020 program are many that incorporate significant diversity, equity, and inclusion goals and address pressing challenges associated with climate change. Project types include an affordable housing project, a freshwater research lab, an adaptive use stadium converted partially into green roofs, and a series of fog collection and other interventions created in partnership with an informal settlement in Peru. The geographically diverse projects also include a rooftop garden in Sydney designed by and for indigenous users, a resilient university campus project in the Arizona desert, and two stormwater management and water conservation infrastructure projects that provide multiple layers of benefits.

Please join LAF’s 2020 Case Study Investigation Research Fellows and Research Assistants for a finale webinar in which they will present their process and most compelling findings from their efforts to quantify environmental, social, and economic benefits of exemplary landscape projects.

Upcoming LAF Webinar: Measuring Landscape Performance: Findings & Insights from LAF’s 2020 CSI Program (recording now available)
Wednesday, August 5, 2020
4:00 – 5:30 p.m. (Eastern)

Registration is required and space is limited. A recording of the webinar will be made available on the LAF website.

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ICYMI: A Virtual Forum on the Future of Parks and Play

Social distancing circles in a park
Circles in a London park mark appropriate social distance. / image: Winniepix licensed under CC BY 2.0

On July 15, right in the middle of Park and Recreation Month, three of ASLA’s Professional Practice Networks (PPNs)—Children’s Outdoor Environments, Environmental Justice, and Parks & Recreation—collaborated to host an open dialogue on the future of parks and play.

ASLA members were invited to take part in this virtual forum as an opportunity to converse with peers about their observations and experiences, new developments being planned or currently underway, and what they are seeing locally in terms of park and play space usage or changes in use.

PPN leaders and members came together for small-group discussions within Zoom breakout rooms focused on what’s happening in parks and playspaces, and what landscape architects are hearing from clients and stakeholders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Forum Facilitators:

  • Ilisa Goldman, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Ken Hurst, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Co-Chair
  • Amy Wagenfeld, Affil. ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer and past Co-Chair
  • Heidi Cohen, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Missy Benson, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN Officer
  • Chad Kennedy, ASLA, Children’s Outdoor Environments and past Co-Chair
  • Chingwen Cheng, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Tom Martin, ASLA, Environmental Justice PPN Co-Chair
  • Bronwen Mastro, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer
  • Matt Boehner, ASLA, Parks and Recreation PPN Officer

Four discussion topics and prompts were provided to spark discussion and input from attendees, who ranged from students to firm principals who came from across the U.S., along with a few based internationally. Below, we recap key points, recurring trends, and takeaways from the conversation.

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Getting Started with Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Teachers and students interacting
An effective strategy for participatory design is to go where children are, working with them alongside teachers and out-of-school program leaders as core partners. / image: Darcy Varney Kitching

We are honored to share the third of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one, Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, and part two, The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking, published here on The Field earlier this month). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

If you were to create a dream team to facilitate a placemaking process with children, who would be on this team, and why?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Start with a few enthusiastic people who represent different types of organizations. You need to have people who work with children and youth, such as teachers who want to do project-based learning, or education staff in nonprofit organizations. You will also want someone who can influence decisions. One or two people need to be willing to take charge of the project. For a small initial venture, they can be volunteers, but to sustain a culture of participatory practice, coordinators require funding.

In the Growing Up Boulder program that we have worked on together, a team typically includes schools or child- and youth-serving organizations, city planning and design staff, and university students. Specific partners vary depending on how a project lines up with organization aims and who will be impacted. We are fortunate to have committed city leadership, but in some cities, a nonprofit organization with a sustainability mission may be the critical catalyst and serve as facilitator. The single most important element of a “dream team” is that it reflects the community and pays close attention to people whose perspectives might otherwise not be heard.

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ASLA to Host Virtual Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN

Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA

Upcoming Listening Event: Introducing BlackLAN Podcast
Monday, July 27, 2020 New date TBA

On July 27, ASLA will air the Everything but the Building podcast episode featuring the Black Landscape Architects Network (BlackLAN), interviewed by Stacey Brochtrup. Attendees will learn about the organization and then have the opportunity to participate in a Q&A with Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, BlackLAN Founder and President and first black landscape architect awarded the Loeb Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Everything but the Building is a podcast about the people, places, and history behind the profession of landscape architecture. It can be found on eight different platforms, including Apple, Spotify, and Stitcher.

BlackLAN was established in 2012 as an online communications network. The network was established by Glenn LaRue Smith, ASLA, as Manager and Kofi Boone, ASLA, as Co-Manager. BlackLAN is an organization for landscape architects of African heritage in the United States and internationally. The goal of the network is to foster mentorship, facilitate black diaspora conversations, disseminate news items, and provide resources and other information. In addition to the online network, the BlackLAN is currently moving to an open-source website platform to expand the work and mission of the network. To learn more about this vital community of landscape architecture professionals or sign up to receive the BlackLAN newsletter, contact BlackLAN.

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The Benefits of Including Children in Participatory Placemaking

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

A third grade student exploring an outdoor space with peers
When third graders explored opportunities to redesign the Civic Area, they wanted to honor the wildlife that lived there. This boy signals to his peers, “Shh, don’t scare the ducks!” / image: Stephen Cardinale

We are honored to share the second of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (please see part one: Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening, published last week). The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

What are the advantages for everyone of including children on a design team?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Children bring a playfulness that lightens the work and energizes creativity. They literally see the world from different perspectives, given their different heights and their love of climbing and running over, around, and through the landscape. Children bring freedom from preconceived expectations. We find that children tend to think about all groups in their community—including other species! When the City of Boulder gathered input from all ages in preparation for redeveloping the downtown Civic Area, preschoolers and elementary school students were the voices for biodiversity. They wanted to make sure that changes would accommodate ducks, other birds, squirrels, and butterflies.

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Leveraging Community Voices for an Inclusive Future

by Alicia Adams, ASLA, and Lori Singleton, ASLA

Community engagement in Detroit
image: Alicia Adams and Lori Singleton

Shared Dialogue and Community-Driven Authorship in the Joe Louis Greenway Framework Plan

“We Hope for Better Things”

Detroit’s history has been a tumultuous one, to say the least. As a burgeoning auto industry attracted workers at the turn of the twentieth century and sustained them and their families into the 1950s, Detroit became the birthplace of the American middle class. In many ways, the city came to exemplify the American dream and, at the same time, the intrinsic characteristics which made it so elusive to communities of color.

Over the following decades, Detroit, like so many Rust Belt cities, was subject to the extreme consequences of economic decline and collapse. With industrial shutdowns came loss of jobs and residents. This, compounded with the effects of corrupt political, policing, and planning systems, served to only exacerbate the issues of preexisting racial inequalities. The impacts are still very evident in the city today.

Although Detroit’s story has become one of the most iconic, the city is not alone in the scars it bears. Inflicted by centuries of discriminatory policies and pervasive racial injustices in our systems that persist today, these wounds run deep in our American cities. Now, more than ever, we see evidence of this across the nation, brought into sharper focus by the Black Lives Matter movement—with collective voices that are speaking out against violence and systemic injustice against people of color. As Detroit works to rebuild itself, it must do so with a dedicated focus on equity and racial justice, and a commitment to creating more inclusive social and physical infrastructure.

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Not Just Climate Strikes: Giving Young People Roles in Community Greening

by Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

Middle school students documenting a site with photos
Middle school youth photo-document open space adjacent to their school prior to an intergenerational neighborhood park redesign. / image: Lynn M. Lickteig

We are honored to share the first of a three-part interview with Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer. The three worked together on Growing Up Boulder (whose home base is at the University of Colorado Boulder), a program to engage children and teens in city planning and design. They also co-authored the book Placemaking with Children and Youth: Participatory Practices to Plan Sustainable Communities, winner of the 2019 Achievement Award from the Environmental Design Research Association. A new book, The Routledge Handbook of Designing Public Spaces for Young People, contains chapters by Louise and Mara on developing partnerships for child and youth participation and ensuring that young people’s ideas influence final plans. Happy reading!
– Amy Wagenfeld, PhD, OTR/L, SCEM, EDAC, FAOTA, Affil. ASLA

For readers who are unfamiliar with the concept of placemaking, would you please share a bit about it?

Victoria (Tori) Derr, Louise Chawla, and Mara Mintzer (TD, LC, MM): Placemaking involves bringing people together to plan, design, construct, and inhabit settings of daily life: the local region, city, town, neighborhood, and everywhere people live, learn, work, and play. It is an art and a science, as people contribute their insights, creativity, and knowledge to co-construct places of meaning and memory.

The last two years have seen a wave of youth activism—first climate strikes, and more recently, demonstrations that Black Lives Matter. The climate strikers are rallying for a better future built on renewable energy, social and intergenerational justice, and the protection of biodiversity and the living world. Their scale is global. As one of their slogans says, “There is no Planet B.” Placemaking brings ideas like these down to the local level. By including young people in placemaking, we invite them to participate in creating the world they want to live in. They are telling us that they want a world where people live in harmony with nature.

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Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020

by Bill Estes, ASLA, Robert Hewitt, FASLA, and Ryan A. Hargrove, ASLA

Prior to the shift to online instruction, University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture students were utilizing a digital platform to create and share work. The image shows a lesson on perspective drawing. / image: Ryan Hargrove

Webinar: Higher Education Reflections and Planning for Fall 2020 (recording now available)
Thursday, July 23, 2020
3:00 – 4:30 p.m. (Eastern)
Hosted by ASLA’s Education & Practice PPN

As COVID-19 cases are surging across several states, many educators are in a state of limbo planning for the coming school year. As an affiliate faculty member and lecturer in the University of Washington’s Department of Landscape Architecture, I too am looking toward the autumn with a mix of uncertainty and optimism. In a recent email from the University describing the planned approach to reopening, it is currently anticipated that some classes will be taught in-person, some taught remotely, and some will be a hybrid of both approaches. In any scenario, I, like many others, am in the process of thinking through my class and how to best serve my students while working within social distancing requirements or remote learning challenges.

To a degree, remote learning is no longer new, and many lessons have been learned through the rapid shift universities were forced into this past spring. While I was not teaching through this transition, I followed it closely with intrigue and I had some experiences as a guest lecturer reviewer throughout the spring quarter. Still, I kept asking myself, how are other instructors adapting and what lessons have they learned in the process that could influence my planning for the fall? There have been several groups within universities and departments that worked together to develop repeatable and effective solutions, and there have been helpful articles in Landscape Architecture Magazine and the “Field Notes on Pandemic Teaching” series in Places Journal.

In addition to these resources, I have spoken to many students and faculty regarding the ups and downs of their experiences. Recently, I spoke with Associate Professor, Ryan Hargrove, PhD, ASLA, from the University of Kentucky, and he shared some interesting and insightful thoughts on his experiences with remote education.

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The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration

Landscape architects at work in a design office

Webinar: The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration and Experiences in the Time of COVID-19 (recording and additional resources now available)
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
1:00 – 2:00 p.m. (Eastern)

Construction contract administration is an important part of the profession of landscape architecture. When properly orchestrated, this phase allows the landscape architect to take a decisive path to help ensure successful implementation of the design and materials they have specified for a project.

Seasoned landscape architects often have the knowledge and skills necessary to perform construction contract administration services, simply based on their real-world experience. However, even they can have specific questions about their role and processes—perhaps being unfamiliar or unsure of certain aspects. Beginning and emerging landscape architects may feel overwhelmed or insecure regarding this phase. It is also important that landscape architecture students have a preliminary awareness of this subject.

Therefore, the ASLA Professional Practice Committee created The Landscape Architect’s Guidelines for Construction Contract Administration with the intent of providing information, knowledge, and guidance to a sometimes unfamiliar and misunderstood facet of the profession. The document serves as a reference to assist landscape architects in the construction contract administration of landscape architecture construction projects.

ASLA members may access the guidelines for free—just add the document to your cart and check out, using your ASLA member username and password.

To learn more about construction contract administration, please join us on Tuesday, July 21 for an overview of ASLA’s Construction Contract Administration Guidelines, plus discussion of current events and how COVID-19 is affecting construction contract administration, presented by Wm. Dwayne Adams, FASLA, Emily M. O’Mahoney, FASLA, Joy Kuebler, ASLA, and Keven Graham, FASLA.

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Documenting Vanishing or Lost Landscapes

Pine Ranch
Pine Ranch, HALS AZ-4-5, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Littlefield, Mohave County, Arizona. / image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

2020 HALS Challenge: Vanishing or Lost Landscapes
Deadline: July 31, 2020

For the 11th annual HALS Challenge, the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) invites you to document vanishing or lost landscapes. Many historic American landscapes are under threat or have been lost. Threats include development pressure, neglect, and climate change. By documenting vanishing or lost historic landscapes for HALS, you may increase historic landscape awareness with your local governments and preservation commissions by illuminating these almost forgotten vestiges of America’s past.

Short format histories should be submitted to HALS at the National Park Service no later than July 31, 2020. The HALS Short Format History guidelines, brochure, and digital template may be downloaded from the National Park Service’s HALS website.

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The Providence Preservation Society: Advocating for the Preservation of Urban Neighborhoods and Landscapes

by Elena M. Pascarella, ASLA, PLA

State House, Providence, RI
State House, Providence, RI. This aerial image of the Rhode Island State House is from 1920 and shows the original landscaped grounds. A transportation hub was proposed for the area on the right side of the grounds between the State House and the road. In the 1990s some of the lawn area immediately to the right of the building was made into a parking lot for state legislators. / image: Rhode Island Photograph Collection, Providence Public Library

Many historic preservation organizations are founded to preserve a specific building or landscape. The Providence Preservation Society (PPS) was established in 1956 by leading citizens of College Hill in response to the threatened demolition of a number of early eighteenth and nineteenth century houses in Providence’s historic East Side/College Hill neighborhood. Had this demolition occurred, the entire character of this historic neighborhood would have changed and Providence would have lost a significant historic urban landscape.

The society’s mission is clearly stated on their website:

Our mission is to improve Providence by advocating for historic preservation and the enhancement of the city’s unique character through thoughtful design and planning.

The Providence Preservation Society was then and continues to be an advocate for the revitalization of neighborhoods. And within the past seven years, under the leadership of their current executive director, Brent Runyon, the PPS has led the charge for the preservation and revitalization of a number of threatened neighborhoods and significant landscapes within the City of Providence.

As the Historic American Landscapes Survey (HALS) liaison for Rhode Island, I follow the advocacy work of PPS very closely, particularly with regard to threatened landscapes. The PPS was a strong partner with the Rhode Island Chapter of ASLA in 2017 when the RIASLA nominated the Rhode Island State House and its surrounding landscape for The Cultural Landscape Foundation’s annual Landslide program. This nomination was spurred by a plan for the placement of a transit hub on the east side of the state house landscape. The continued advocacy efforts of the PPS, along with other partners and the national recognition from TCLF’s Landslide feature, helped to stop the transit hub plan and preserve the context for Providence’s state capitol building, designed by McKim, Mead & White.

Providence’s riverfront is currently under threat from a number of development proposals. I contacted Brent Runyon by phone to inquire further about the PPS’ advocacy program and what he considers to be the key areas of focus for their organization.

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An Interview with Virginia Burt, FCSLA, FASLA

by Siyi He, Associate ASLA, and Lisa Bailey, ASLA

Virginia Burt on site at a residential project by Virginia Burt Designs in Shaker Heights, OH. / image: © 2015 Richard Mandelkorn

Virginia Burt, FCSLA, FASLA, creates landscapes and gardens of meaning for residential clients, healthcare facilities, and academic and governmental organizations. For more than 30 years, Virginia’s design philosophy has reflected these roots, enabling her to create gardens and landscapes that reveal their natural context and sensitively reflect and support those who use them.

Virginia’s international work has been widely recognized. These awards include CSLA National Awards in 2015, 2016, 2017 (two), 2018, and 2019; awards from the Ohio Chapter of ASLA in 2006, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019; a National ASLA Award of Merit in 1999; and a Palladio Award in 2014. Virginia is one of seven women in the world honored to be designated a Fellow of both the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects and the American Society of Landscape Architects.

The following interview with Virginia Burt was conducted and edited by Lisa Bailey, ASLA, and Siyi He, Associate ASLA.

ASLA’s Healthcare & Therapeutic Design Professional Practice Network (PPN) also invites you to continue this conversation with Virginia on Thursday, July 16, 2:00-3:00 p.m. (Eastern). (The recording is now available.)

What inspires you to do this work?

I grew up on an apple farm, and being this close to nature literally wove and wrote it into my DNA. It is such a blessing.

I learned something from having watched plants blossom, literally blossom to fruit, and then being able to eat that fruit. You realize that something out there is greater than we are. So for me there is a richness, and I would say a spirituality, that infuses my world.

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Be a Professional Practice Network Leader

The call for Professional Practice Network leadership volunteers is open now.

Call for Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership Volunteers
Deadline: Friday, July 24, 2020

If you are passionate about your landscape architecture practice area, whether it is ecological restoration, planting design, urban design, or any one of ASLA’s 20 PPNs, please consider volunteering to join your PPN’s leadership team.

PPN leaders provide member input on specific practice area needs and ASLA programs and services, including webinar and blog post development and PPN Live event planning for the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture. Appointments are for one year, and all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer. Each leadership team conducts work via email and by conference call. The full PPN Council, composed of all PPNs’ chairs, meets quarterly by conference call. Individual PPN leadership teams typically have a monthly conference call.

To volunteer for service as a PPN leader:

  • Answer “yes” to question two on the committee appointment form, “Are you interested in Professional Practice Network (PPN) Leadership?”
  • You’ll then be prompted to confirm which PPN leadership team you are interested in joining, and which PPN activity interests you most.

Visit for the full list of PPNs and review the leadership toolkit for additional information.

Please note: all ASLA members are welcome to volunteer to be a PPN leader, but you must be a member of the PPN whose leadership team you would like to join. If you’re not sure which PPN(s) you are currently a member of, please log in to ASLA members’ PPNs are listed on the Activities / Orders tab in your member profile. Members may request to change or add a PPN at any time via this form or by contacting ASLA Member Services.

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Micromobility & Multimodal Transportation Assimilation

by Nate Lowry, ASLA

Bicycles locked to road sign
image: Héctor López on Unsplash

Demand for flexible urban transportation options is on the rise and becoming even more vital these days. Bike, scooter, and other options have reshaped how people access, mobilize, and interact with urban spaces. Many large cities have been slow to adjust to these quickly shifting trends and the need for alternative solutions. Shifts from traditional automobiles and associated infrastructure to more micro-scale transportation uses will continue to test local government’s ability to provide adequate planning approaches.

Micromobility devices offer flexibility and freedom that traditional passenger vehicles cannot and cost less, emit little to no emissions, and are much easier to park/store. Micromobility is defined by Wikipedia as a range of small, lightweight devices operating at speeds typically below 15 mph for trips up to 6 miles. Micromobility devices include bicycles, Ebikes, electric scooters, electric skateboards, shared bicycles, and electric pedal-assisted (pedelec) bicycles.

As you can imagine, transitional passenger vehicle infrastructure does not adequately provide for micromobility device use. The City of Seattle has recently taken a different approach to traditional transportation, permanently closing down 20 miles of streets to most vehicles and making them for public access only. In Portland, Oregon, building codes recently changed to require additional micromobility storage in new structures to meet increasing demand while trying to avoid safety concerns about them littering the sidewalk. The City of Atlanta’s Department of Transportation recently approved more than $200 million in funding for transportation improvements focused on pedestrians, bikes, scooters, and other micromobility devices.

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Western Water Use Regulation: Diverse Approaches

by Glen Dake, FASLA

Imperial Dam on the Colorado River near Yuma, AZ, where Colorado River water is diverted to the Imperial Irrigation District. / image: Glen Dake

Western states face new struggles to match water use with water supply. Landscape architects are finding a wide range of regulations and incentives to drive landscape water use down and support a growing population.

The 2019 Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan committed each of the Colorado Basin states to reduce the amount of water they take from the Colorado River during drought conditions. The junior water rights holder, Arizona, committed to a 7% reduction in annual water use starting in 2020. That state is home to the second-fastest growing city in the U.S., with a 56.6% increase in population since the last census: Buckeye, AZ. This is one of several dynamics that are impacting water policies in the Colorado Basin states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah.

To reduce water use states are turning to the remaining area of conservation potential: water that is consumed in urban landscapes. In past years, urban water use per capita was reduced through promotion of low-flow bathroom fixtures and water-wise clothes washers that have been replacing old models. A sampling of many approaches that Western cities and counties are applying to meet their water conservation goals follows.

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