Shifting Toward Climate Positive Outcomes with the New SITES Carbon Pilot Credit

by Danielle Pieranunzi

U.S. Land Port of Entry at Columbus, NM / image: Robert Reck

The first part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Sixth Assessment Report, described by UN Secretary-General António Guterres as “code red for humanity,” was released on August 9, 2021. For those of us invested in sustainability and climate mitigation, the results were sobering but unsurprising: We’re on track to exceed 1.5 degrees C of warming in the next two decades, and every fraction of a degree of warming leads to more dangerous and costly impacts for the planet. Limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees C by the end of the century is still within reach, but requires holistic, transformational change. It requires universal adoption of sustainability guidelines, including broad support for sustainable landscapes, which provide the unique opportunity to not only reduce carbon emissions but to protect and even create carbon sinks. To support these goals, GBCI recently released a SITES Pilot Credit focused on assessing and improving site carbon performance.

The intent of the new SITES Pilot Credit is to understand and improve a site’s carbon performance by assessing and increasing carbon sequestration capacity and reducing embodied and operational carbon emissions. / The Center for Sustainable Landscapes at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, Pittsburgh, PA

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Be Part of the Solution: Register for the 10th Annual Campus RainWorks Challenge

Purdue University’s entry, A Visible Solution, earned honorable mention for design beauty and elegance in the demonstration project category of the 2020 Campus RainWorks Challenge. / image: Purdue University Design Board

Registration for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s 10th annual Campus RainWorks Challenge is open through October 1, 2021.

Campus RainWorks is a green infrastructure design competition for American colleges and universities that seeks to engage with the next generation of environmental professionals and showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of green infrastructure practices.

Stormwater pollution is a problem that impacts public health and water quality in communities across the country. The Campus RainWorks Challenge invites students to become part of the solution.

To learn more, check out the official Campus RainWorks Challenge Competition Brief, with details on design categories, submission requirements, and rules for participation.

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Here are the ASLA 2021 Game Changer Contenders

Game Changers voting

The ASLA 2021 Game Changer contenders have been announced! Head over to @nationalasla on Instagram to watch all the videos and vote, either through ASLA’s Game Changers Instagram story or as a comment on the two Game Changer posts: videos #1-9 here and videos #10-15 here.

Help us choose the finalists who will present their big idea at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture this November in Nashville.

Cast your vote for your favorite submissions today, then stay tuned to see who will meet us in Music City.

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Park(ing) Day & Environmental Justice

by the Environmental Justice PPN Leadership Team

Community League of the Heights (CLOTH)’s Open Street in New York City / image: Gloria Lau, ASLA

With Park(ing) Day—this Friday, September 17, 2021—just days away, leaders from ASLA’s Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network (PPN) have shared their experiences with Park(ing) Day, how they have highlighted environmental justice issues through their parklet designs, and their thoughts on Park(ing) Day as a platform to address environmental justice.

Chingwen Cheng, ASLA
PPN Officer and Past Co-Chair
Program Head and Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture + Urban Design + Environmental Design, The Design School, Arizona State University

Park(ing) Day started by responding to a lack of people-centered urban design and automobile-driven urban development. Transforming a parking space to a park space is a statement to advocate for inclusive and people-centered design. Many neighborhoods in Phoenix have experienced inequitable distribution of open space and urban tree canopy, resulting in vulnerable conditions under extreme heat and divergent health outcomes. Park(ing) Day provides a space and time for landscape architecture professionals and educators to get together and advocate for creating quality environments for all.

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Competition / Collaboration: What a Design Challenge Taught Us During a Year Online

by Cullen Meves, ASLA

Topography and Temporality / image: Ke-Ping Kuo, Student Affil. ASLA, Northeastern University

As college students are returning to class this Fall, either online, remote, or hybrid, this post reflects on the extraordinary year just completed and the advances in digital technology evolving simultaneously in our socially-distanced current scenario. The 2020-2021 university school-year saw an immense shift in academic practice and online curriculum. Every professor, faculty member, and student experienced a barrage of new online technologies, teaching and collaboration strategies, and a fundamentally changed appreciation for the vast array of digital tools available.

Over the course of the Spring 2021 semester, five universities engaged in the Envision Resilience Nantucket Challenge, spearheaded by ReMain Nantucket and adapting educational models developed at University of Florida. The Challenge called on interdisciplinary teams of graduate students from leading design universities to reimagine Nantucket Harbor under the latest projections of sea level rise. Teams were asked to create visually impactful designs and propose adaptations and innovations that would enable coastal communities to imagine what Nantucket’s future under sea level rise and climate impacts may look like.

The teams worked with 24 local and regional advisors as well as residents of Nantucket for context and inspiration, all from remote locations geographically dispersed across the United States and for the most part connecting only via online meetings during the semester-long Challenge. Digital communication and representational tools took center-stage over the course of this Challenge and highlighted the strengths and weaknesses these tools offer in this new era of online design.

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STEM, à la Landscape Architecture

by Arnaldo D. Cardona, ASLA

Planting seedlings
image: Sandie Clarke on Unsplash

To learn more about career discovery, register now for Dream Big with Design later this month, ASLA’s inaugural virtual showcase of landscape architecture and PreK-12 design learning, with fun sessions and resources for students, as well as for PreK-12 educators, ASLA members, and other design professionals seeking to introduce students to the profession. There’s also a pre-Dream Big webinar happening on Friday, September 17—Hollywood’s Backlot Urbanism: A Cinematographic Pattern Language for Landscape Architecture, presented by Chip Sullivan, FASLA.

From June 28 to August 6, 2021, I had the opportunity to be an instructor in a summer program at elementary schools in Henrico County and Richmond, Virginia. Even though my priority at the time was working on my book, I accepted the challenge as a way to test how lessons on landscape architecture concepts can be integrated when implementing STEM activities.

I used lessons that I created and taught during my career as an educator for over 30 years at New York City public schools, but now with an added STEM approach. Although I knew that I was going to integrate concepts from landscape architecture and 3D design, I decided not to include the phrase “landscape architecture” in the program title because it can sound like complex and intimidating work for elementary school children. For this reason, I selected lessons that would help students develop design skills about the outdoor and built environment using the word “environment” as a more inclusive term, because I wanted to be perceived just as the “STEM teacher.”

But what is STEM? Many people know it as the acronym for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; however, I agree with the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA)’s description of it as “an interdisciplinary approach to learning where rigorous academic concepts are coupled with real world lessons as students apply these disciplines in contexts that make connections between school, community, work and the global enterprise enabling students to compete in the new economy.” Therefore, I used this definition as a guide when designing each lesson for this summer program.

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Virtual Community Outreach Meetings May Be Here to Stay

by Kalle Maggio, ASLA, David Barth, PhD, ASLA, Emily Paskewicz, ASLA, and Lauren Schmitt, ASLA

Woman using a laptop and smartphone
image: Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Over the past year and a half, and as we all continue to be affected by the pandemic, many industries, including the design professions and public practice, shifted from in-person community meetings to the plethora of virtual platforms available for community outreach initiatives. The ASLA Parks & Recreation Professional Practice Network (PPN) leadership team decided to conduct a survey that asked landscape architects to describe their experience facilitating virtual community outreach.

The majority of those who provided feedback through this survey used computers and phones for these meetings, and the virtual meeting platforms that were used the most were Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Zoom was the most utilized and described as intuitive, recognizable, and yielded higher participation rates than other platforms. Microsoft Teams has the upper hand for its scheduling capabilities and links with the Microsoft Outlook email platform.

However, there are those who stated that community meetings all have different requirements and engagement should be customized to meet the community’s needs on a case-by-case basis.

The consensus is that though in-person meetings cannot be replaced completely, there is a growing acceptance of virtual meetings due to their convenience and efficiency. People are able to join virtual meetings for the arranged time slot rather than having to spend time traveling to and from a physical meeting site. Some survey participants stated that it allows meeting facilitators to maintain better order, which is necessary for any productive meeting. There is also the ability to record meetings, which provides better review and documentation. Overall, the pandemic has made an impact on the way we continue to conduct business and interact with one another both physically and virtually.

Survey Findings Snapshot

The online survey garnered 61 responses, representing practitioners in private consulting practice (60%) and public agency practice (30%), with other respondents representing students, academic institutions, and non-profits.

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