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Archive for the ‘ENVIRONMENT’ Category

BY ELIZABETH S. PADJEN

BEDIT_2---Water-District---Final-Boards-1-5

ReDe Boston 2100, designed by Architerra, imagines an accessible waterfront that allows for tidal submersion.

All this talk of sea-level rise and 100-year floods…. If you’re a Bostonian, you can talk in terms of 30-day floods.

That’s the interval between astronomical high tides—the so-called wicked high tides (no one bothers with quotation marks around “wicked” anymore) that regularly flood parts of the city. Locals have been industriously filling in tidelands and marshes for a few centuries now, increasing the city’s land area by more than half. But in just the past century, sea level has risen by almost a foot, with a projected additional five- to six-foot increase by 2100 that will flood most of that filled land, leaving dry zones that almost match the footprint of the original 17th-century Boston.

Bostonians have got the message: The sea is calling, and it wants its stuff back.

The most recent effort to negotiate palatable terms of surrender is Boston Living with Water, an open, international, two-stage competition that attracted 50 entries representing more than 340 individuals. Winning submissions were announced on June 8 by Boston’s mayor, Martin J. Walsh, at a standing-room-only event that attracted more than 150 attendees, including designers, civic and business leaders, community members, students, and even Miss Earth Massachusetts (Olea Nickitina, resplendent in a sash and suitably green frock).

Selected from a field of nine semifinalists, the winners were: (more…)

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After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop. Photo courtesy of the American Society of Landscape Architects.

After 10 years of evolution, the green roof of the American Society of Landscape Architects is producing a new and varied crop.

We recently came across this piece by Brittany Patterson at E&E Publishing on green roofs in the nation’s capital and their enormous (and necessary) benefits, which was originally published behind E&E’s paywall. E&E, which does excellent daily reporting on climate change and energy issues, has kindly allowed us to repost the article in full.

 

NATION’S CAPITAL BECOMES GREEN ROOF CAPITAL TO FIGHT EXTREME HEAT, HEAVY STORMS

BRITTANY PATTERSON, E&E PUBLISHING, LLC, JUNE 9, 2015

Nestled on Eye Street in downtown Washington, D.C., near the heart of the bustling city lies the headquarters of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA).

From the front, the brick building looks like any other in the neighborhood, but take the elevator and a flight of stairs to the roof and you’ll find yourself surrounded by rows of green Sedum, blooming prickly pear cactus, and patches of lush butterfly milkweed and hare’s-foot clover. It’s almost possible to imagine you are sitting in the tranquil countryside, not just on the roof of a building covered in foliage.

As relaxing as they can be, green roofs are more than just easy on the eyes.

“Green roofs deliver multiple benefits for both combating heat and in the retention of stormwater,” said Kate Johnson, a program analyst with the District Department of the Environment (DDOE). “Both are issues we think are going to continue to be important in light of climate change. It’s projected to get hotter, and it’s projected we’ll have more extreme rain events.”

(more…)

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Stone Brewing World Bistro & Cardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, San Diego, a one-star SITES pilot project by Schmidt Design Group.

Today is a big day for what has long been known as the Sustainable Sites Initiative, now known as SITES, the rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. SITES is now under the administration of Green Business Certification Inc., or GBCI, based in Washington, D.C., which also runs the LEED rating system for buildings, after which SITES is modeled.

With this acquisition, GBCI is now taking applications for certifying landscape projects under the SITES v2 Rating System, and will also administer professional credentialing for the program.

SITES, begun a decade ago, was developed in a collaboration among the American Society of Landscape Architects (the publisher of LAM), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. ASLA and UT, the owners of SITES, have transferred full ownership to GBCI. Its purpose is to guide development projects of all scales, from residential gardens to national parks, toward rigorous measures of stewardship for land and other resources. SITES certification criteria—refined through expert advice from professionals in numerous disciplines, case study examples, and more than 100 pilot projects—account for environmental factors in landscape design such as water use, stormwater handling, wildlife and habitat protection, air quality, and energy use, as well as human health and recreation. Forty-six projects so far have earned SITES certification. (ASLA members are eligible for discounts on all SITES materials and certification.)

“It’s exciting to see years of work developing and field-testing SITES culminate with the availability of this rating system,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, the dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin.

Nancy Somerville, Honorary ASLA, the executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, said: “GBCI will take SITES to the next level and ensure its future growth and influence.”

A full news release on the SITES acquisition can be found here. For more information, visit sustainablesites.org.

Credit: Schmidt Design Group Inc.

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BY CAROL E. BECKER

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

Building the supply chain for native landscapes.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

The oak is our national tree for a reason. Oaks are endemic to our native landscapes in all regions of the United States, easily identified by their leaf shape and gnarly branches. The size of the mature white oak (Quercus alba), spreading up to 120 feet, is one reason we associate oaks with strength, along with the density of the wood and an oak fire’s burning hot and long in the woodstove. Native oaks fall into two taxonomic groups, white and red, and their landscape uses vary depending on soil moisture. But most important today, as Douglas Tallamy, a professor of entomology and wildlife ecology at the University of Delaware, points out, oaks are the “quintessential wildlife plants.” They provide food to more than 500 species of caterpillars and other insects. In this fact lies the oaks’ value to the entire food chain, from the birds that eat insects to the humans who rest in the trees’ shade.

We need more oaks in our landscapes, mostly for the food benefits they provide. But instead of being sought-after plants, oaks are underused, undermarketed, undercultivated, and therefore in short supply. Landscape architects don’t often use them, clients don’t ask for them, and thus growers don’t grow them. A reverse scenario also holds true. Few nurseries grow Quercus species, particularly Q. macrocarpa, Q. muehlenbergii, and Q. alba, because they are hard to grow and suffer significant transplant death. So clients don’t see them and don’t ask for them and, in turn, landscape architects don’t specify them. Whatever the reason and wherever you start, it’s a circle of mutually reinforcing supply and demand.

The oaks are but one example of the larger problem for design professionals working to create sustainable landscapes with hardy plants in a given region. The interest in doing so—the imperative of doing so—is unequaled by the supply of appropriate species. This shortage also helps perpetuate clients’ expectations of plant specimens they do in fact see at the retail level, plants that are well-shaped, blooming, varied, and maybe even a bit exotic. The landscape architecture profession has taught them to value this aesthetic at least since the mid-19th century, when Andrew Jackson Downing codified ornamental landscaping in A Treatise on the Theory and Practice of Landscape Gardening. Now, we find ourselves in a world where, in just the past 40 years, half the songbird species in the United States and more than 90 percent of the monarch butterflies have disappeared. Honeybees and bumblebees have fallen to a mysterious virus, a cataclysmic problem that threatens the entire food chain. We do know how to reverse these trends and preserve biodiversity in landscapes, but we can’t get it done because clients still want constantly blooming and well-shaped plants with no bugs.

(more…)

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BY JANE ROY BROWN

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “Kit of Parts” that really works.

How designers of Boston’s outdoor classrooms arrived at a “kit of parts” that really works.

From the May 2015 issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine.

 “Ms. Thompson, what’s a log?” The question came from a kindergartener in a Boston elementary school in 2006, after his teacher (not her real name) read a story to the class about a possum hiding in a hollow log.

As shocking as the question may sound, teachers all over the country have fielded similar ones for years. By 2005, when Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods launched the term “nature-deficit disorder” into everyday use, generations of kids in some city neighborhoods had had no experience of woods, never mind logs.

Last Child in the Woods has sent all kinds of communities scrambling to offer some experience of nature to their children, and many of them have focused, logically enough, on schoolyards. As more landscape architects join the push to transform crumbling asphalt schoolyards into landscapes for play and learning, they might do worse than to take a page from the Boston Schoolyard Initiative (BSI).

(more…)

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The things our art director, Chris McGee, hated to leave out of the current issue of LAM.

Extra from

Students create a mural of the Boston skyline. Credit: Boston Latin School.

From “Farm Factory” by Brian Barth, Affiliate ASLA, in the May 2015 issue, featuring a Freight Farm, a hydroponics system at the Boston Latin School.

 “I’m taken by that green color and the kids in the foreground applying the pattern to the skyline. Unfortunately this was an instance where there just wasn’t enough space to include the image.

—Chris McGee, LAM Art Director

As always, you can buy this issue of Landscape Architecture Magazine at more than 200 bookstores, including many university stores and independents, as well as at Barnes & Noble. You can also buy single digital issues for only $5.25 at Zinio or order single copies of the print issue from ASLA. Annual subscriptions for LAM are a thrifty $59 for print and $44.25 for digital. Our subscription page has more information on subscription options.

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On February 28, Under the Dome: Investigating China’s Smog, a documentary about air pollution in China by Chai Jing, was released. In less than a week, the video received more than 200 million hits before it was taken down by the Chinese government. The video breaks down the composition of pollution and why it is harmful, the health effects on the human body, the most common sources for China’s pollution, the government’s roadblocks to reform, and the history of rapid industrialization and consequences experienced around the world–in Europe, for instance. There are even striking parallels to practices found in the United States, reminding us that we have a ways to go to curb our own fossil-fuel dependency. The video is 103 minutes long, and the content is well worth watching for an in-depth look at just how bad the pollution situation has become in China.

Above is a playlist of the documentary segmented into 8 videos. For the full-length documentary, please visit here.

 

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