Springfield MA Welcomes Ecological Landscaping

image: Ecological Landscaping

Celebrating twenty years of promoting environmentally safe and beneficial landscape practices, the Ecological Landscaping Association (ELA) held their early March annual conference in Springfield, MA. While originally a New England organization, the group’s influence has spread to the mid-Atlantic states; ELA now boasts over 300 professional, business, and community members.

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To vegetable or not to vegetable…Citizens revolt!

Front Yard Vegetable Garden
Front Yard Vegetable Garden
image: The Agitator

You can’t have a lifestyle trend such as urban farming or edible frontyards without some controversy. Did you know that there really are many cities and towns with old bylaws or zoning codes that prohibit a person from actually eating any food they grow in their own yard!  While some cities such as San Francisco, New York, Baltimore, Seattle and Detroit have begun to change laws and policy in support of urban agriculture, and as this trend continues to thrive because of food safety and security issues, the growing foodie locavore movement and urban hipster cred, many citizens in other cities and towns have been threatend with jail time or fines for planting a garden or organic farm on their own property.

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Sustainable Design and ASLA Federal Priorities

Representative Carnahan receiving his ASLA Honorary Membership from Saint Louis Chapter Trustee, Hunter Beckham, in a SITES Pilot Project rain garden.
Representative Carnahan receiving his ASLA Honorary Membership from Saint Louis Chapter Trustee, Hunter Beckham, in a SITES Pilot Project.
image: STL ASLA

It’s true; Federal Representatives really do pay attention to us as Landscape Architects.

ASLA membership recently responded to a survey on Federal Priorities for 2011 and consistently ranked the following issues the most important to the profession:

  • Sustainable design
  • Water and stormwater management
  • Transportation design and planning
  • Parks, recreation, and active living issues

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Can Urban Farms Translate Popularity Into Profitability?

Chicago Urban Farm
Chicago Urban Farm
image: Wikipedia

In the recent post, A Growing Concern, in The Earth Island Journal, Sena Christian raises legitimate questions about the national urban agriculture movement. She states that farms and community gardens in city centers seem to have struck a chord with the American public and have become media darlings attracting big grants from major philanthropies and the support of upscale chefs.

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Greenhouse Gas Footprint of Maintained Landscapes

image:  Apple Tree
image: Apple Tree

You probably know by now that burning fossil fuels to heat your home, run your appliances and drive your vehicles creates carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHG), but you may not have thought about the GHG produced with watering, mowing and fertilizing landscapes.  The problem is that there are not good tools for calculating this. Carbon and other GHG calculators do not typically include the embodied energy of water nor landscape maintenance in their equations.

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Sustainability and Annual Plantings

image:  Bell Nursery
image: Bell Nursery

An interesting question is beginning to be raised in terms of sustainable landscaping, how can we use annual plants in our sustainable landscape?  This presents an interesting topic for discussion and we would be interested in your opinions.  In most areas of the U.S., annuals can play an important role in many landscapes such as healing environments.  The benefit of certain colors and mental restorative factors is a consideration in landscapes and human health.

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LEED-ND is an Opportunity for Landscape Architects to Advance Sustainable Community Design

image:  US Green Building Council
image: US Green Building Council

Do you want to become a LEED-Accredited Professional, but are not sure whether any LEED specialty suits you as a landscape architect?  Or are you already a LEED-AP, accredited before the revised credentialing system took effect, and are considering becoming a LEED-AP in a specialty?

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Edibles While You Work -The Rise of Company Gardens

Corporate Garden at Harvard Pilgrim in Massachusetts
Corporate Garden at Harvard Pilgrim in Massachusetts
image: New York Times

Organic edible gardens are a rising trend not only in the residential sector but also the corporate campus. In a recent New York Times article, it was noted thatas companies have less to spend on raises, health benefits and other typical employee perks, the latest craze is to let them dig in the dirt. Not only are companies such as Google, Yahoo and Sunset Magazine doing it, where organic may be part of the regional urban zeitgeist, this sustainable trend is catching on at more traditional based companies too. Planting and harvesting edibles to take home,  incorporating fresh foods into the campus cafeteria menu, or even donating the harvested crops to a local food bank, are creative ways that allow employees a place to connect with nature, build morale and health, or give something back to the community. This eco-trend is one to watch to see if it will become just a  passing fad or mark the beginning of a transformation into a healthier, more sustainable lifestyle across the country.

by  April Philips

Seattle has declared 2010 the Year of Urban Agriculture

image:  Designing for Urban Food
image: Designing for Urban Food

Seattle has declared 2010 the Year of Urban Agriculture in the city as a way to explore and expand on its vibrant culture of community gardening, farmer’s markets and regional farming .  It’s generating community-wide discussion.  The local radio station poses, “In many Asian countries over 60% of their food is grown in the City – what would that look like in Seattle?”  At the University of Washington’s College of the Built Environment  landscape architecture students organized a community charetteto explore design ideas for city farming.

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Balancing and integrating safe access and habitat protection – the Safe Trestle competition

The Wave Team Safe Trestles Phase Two
The Wave Team Safe Trestles Phase Two
image: Architecture for Humanity

Architecture for Humanity is a nonprofit organization with the mission of building a more sustainable future through the power of professional design. Often using competitions as a platform for innovative ideas and projects AFH launched its first landscape based competition earlier this year ‘ Safe Trestle’.

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Residential Landscape Architecture and Sustainability

Landscape Architects, Ltd., Alexandria, VA
ASLA Honor Award Lily Lake Residence Dalton, PA Michael Vergason Landscape Architects, Ltd., Alexandria, VA
image: ASLA

A well designed residential landscape can not only create beautiful vistas from within the house and comfortable rooms for outdoor living, but can also significantly increase the real estate value of a home and neighborhood. But wait there’s more! Did you know that carefully placed plants can also significantly reduce your homes heating and cooling energy needs?  Provide food for your family and friends?

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New Exhibit at MOMA: Rising Currents

Architect Teams and Zone Locations
Architect Teams and Zone Locations
image: MoMA

The latest from the MOMA P.S.1 architects-in-residence program, this exhibit showcases various designers’ solutions to climate change and sea level rise along the Hudson Bay shoreline. The program specifically called for ‘soft’ infrastructure with sound ecology and resulted in innovative landscape-based solutions. Similar to the Rising Tides competition in the San Francisco Bay Area, this effort asked for a re-envisioning of possible solutions as a way to gain fresh ideas and rethink our usual ‘band-aid’ approach to infrastructure (as well as highlighting future sea level rise scenarios).

Learn more about the challenge, the designs and the exhibit at INSIDE/OUT