Landscape Architects United for Climate Action

Climate Positive Design is a research initiative that launched in 2019 to improve the carbon impact of the built environment through collective action. Its mission is to help projects become Climate Positive solutions that sequester more carbon than they emit.
ASLA 2020 Professional Research Honor Award. Climate Positive Design. Pamela Conrad, ASLA / image: CMG Landscape Architecture

With the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) taking place October 31 – November 12, 2021, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) continues to advance climate action.

Earlier this month, ASLA joined with Architecture 2030 to call for all sovereign governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040, which would accelerate the current timeline to achieve emission reductions outlined in the Paris Climate Accord by a decade. The 1.5°C COP26 Communiqué, which will be issued to world leaders at the UN climate conference.

ASLA also ratified the International Federation of Landscape Architects’ Climate Action Commitment, joining a global coalition of 70,000 landscape architects in 77 countries in committing to limiting planetary warming to 1.5°C (2.7 °F). This is the largest coalition of landscape architecture professionals ever assembled to advance climate action.

The goals outlined in the IFLA Climate Action Commitment are:

  1. Advancing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
    ASLA and its member landscape architects and designers will accelerate efforts to protect and repair ecosystems.
  2. Attaining Global Net Zero Emissions by 2040
    ASLA and its members will dramatically reduce operational and embodied carbon emissions produced by projects, increasingly harness the unique capacity of landscapes to draw down carbon dioxide, and continue to advocate for low-carbon multi-modal transport systems.
  3. Enhancing Capacity and Resilience of Livable Cities and Communities
    Implementing green infrastructure approaches, ASLA and its members will increase efforts to mitigate the urban heat island effect and reduce climate impacts associated with fire, drought, and flooding.
  4. Advocating for Climate Justice and Social Well-Being
    ASLA and its members will maintain our priority on equity and equality and ensure the right to nearby green spaces and clean water and air.
  5. Learning from Cultural Knowledge Systems
    ASLA and its members commit to respecting and working with indigenous communities and honoring cultural land management practices to mitigate climate change impacts and continue work towards reconciliation.
  6. Galvanizing Climate Leadership
    Landscape architects are uniquely positioned to lead the built environment community’s response to the climate crisis. ASLA will continue to collaborate with clients, suppliers, and allied professions to champion climate positive landscapes, which involves planning and designing landscapes that sequester more greenhouse gas emissions than they emit.

To see how landscape architects design the climate-smart infrastructure we need, keep an eye on ASLA’s social media channels over the next two weeks. In advance of COP26, ASLA Climate Action Committee members will share how their projects provide nature-based solutions to extreme heat, flooding, sea level rise, and other climate impacts.

Up first: Mike Fox, ASLA, Senior Associate | Landscape Architect at WPL in Virginia Beach:

Interested in learning more? ASLA’s Climate Action Committee-organized regional event series continues this Thursday, October 21, 2021, with Restitching Communities with Landscapes: Climate Justice Strategies in the Pacific Northwest.

The Department of Landscape Architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, with support from the Southern California Chapter of ASLA, Northern California Chapter of ASLA, Los Angeles Regional Collaborative for Climate Action and Sustainability, the National Association for Minority Landscape Architects, and the US Green Building Council, is hosting monthly presentations on the science of climate change and landscape architecture solutions through June 2022. The next event, on wildfire, is November 5.

And next month in Nashville, the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture‘s education program includes a dedicated Resilience and Stewardship track. Sessions include:

One thought on “Landscape Architects United for Climate Action

  1. Randal Scott Romie, ASLA October 19, 2021 / 12:52 pm

    It seems that ASLA is having identity issues. In previous comments on other articles, I have encouraged ASLA to spend their time explaining why LAs ARE the leaders in the present and for the future with regard to sustainable design and working with nature, every day and in everything LAs do. It appears that ASLA must join with to get the recognition that we have longed for. Personally, I fear aligning with political entities, as nature and stewardship requires humility and is not political. While “climate/climate equity” and “deals” might be rightly intended, to me it inherently forwards a division that separates us as the human race. ASLA has to understand and actively promote and advance science. There is a lot of political science being promoted now that is not really science. Can ASLA count and promote how many planted trees they have been responsible for over the last 20-50 years and calculate how much carbon has been sequestered by these trees? You might just find that LAs are the superheroes of this century.

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