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BY MEG CALKINS, FASLA

New technologies can reduce the environmental footprint of the most-used construction material.

FROM THE JULY 2017 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

Concrete in the 21st century promises to be a more sustainable material, and given the nine billion metric tons used globally each year, it must be. Portland cement, the binding agent in ordinary concrete, has a very high carbon footprint, resulting in just under one ton of carbon dioxide (CO2) released for every ton of cement produced. With 4.2 billion metric tons of the binder used each year worldwide, cement production is responsible for nearly 8 percent of total global carbon emissions. The high lime content of ordinary portland cement contributes about two-thirds of cement’s CO2 impact through the process of limestone calcination. The other one-third of CO2 released is from combustion of fossil fuels.

Technologies to improve the carbon footprint of concrete are currently in the early stages of development, but some, including carbon sequestration in concrete and substantial reductions of cement using energetically modified cement, are now commercially available. Concrete surface products for paving and walls to scrub air pollution, as well as new self-healing concrete products, are also worth investigating. We have heard about some of these innovations for a decade or more in the research community, but many are finally being brought to market—some more quickly than others. Europe is ahead of the United States in the adoption of these technologies, largely because of more rigorous clean air and carbon reduction initiatives.

New technologies in any field can take a long time to move from the laboratory to the marketplace, but (more…)

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Need you wonder why we started a drinking game called “Portland” here at the magazine? The Oregon metropolis always has so much to show for its progressive thinking. A large team of landscape architects and other designers can take credit and pride in the new MAX Orange Line, seen on LAM’s cover this month, which at 7.3 miles is the latest addition to the city’s light-rail network. Mayer/Reed led the urban design of eight stations, and ZGF Architects led urban design on two others. Also involved are landscape architects who work for the client transit agency, TriMet, plus the Portland offices of Marianne Zarkin Landscape Architects, Lango Hansen Landscape Architects, and Alta Planning + Design. The rail route incorporates bold, colorful streetscapes with more than 3,000 trees, 286 bioswales, and—newer in the United States than in Europe—a short stretch of vegetated track bed. Sean Batty, ASLA, the director of operating projects at TriMet, tells the author, Betsy Anderson, Associate ASLA: “Are we trying to solve a transportation problem? No, we’re trying to solve an urban design problem, which we’re defining as landscape architects: We’re trying to create positive human habitat.”

The May issue of LAM has numerous other fine examples of habitat: There’s the new plaza around a campus residential tower at MassArt in Boston by Ground, Inc., which won a 2015 ASLA Professional Award for Residential Design. And then there is the enduring beauty of a residential garden by Isabelle Greene, FASLA, in California, as appreciated by Lisa Gimmy, ASLA. In the realm of animal habitats, we report on a new online tool developed by the entomologist Doug Tallamy and the National Wildlife Federation to help encourage property owners to create richer wildlife habitats everywhere they can conceivably do so. Our serial coverage of the National Park Service during its centenary year continues with a report by Daniel Howe, FASLA, on projects to promote large-scale landscape conservation around the Appalachian Trail.

This month, we are also looking forward to the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s 50th anniversary celebration in Philadelphia on June 10 and 11. LAF asked a number of landscape architects to write contemporary responses to the “Declaration of Concern” articulated in 1966 by Ian McHarg and several colleagues in response to the unbound environmental degradation they were witnessing all around them in those years. Five of those essays appear in this issue. And, as ever, don’t miss our regular Now, Species, Goods, and Books columns. The full table of contents for May can be found here.

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.

Keep an eye out here on the blog, on the LAM Facebook page, and on our Twitter feed (@landarchmag), as we’ll be ungating May articles as the month rolls out.

Credits: “The Art of Hanging Out,” Christian Phillips; “All Along the Line,” C. Bruce Forster; “The Lightest Touch,” Marion Brenner, Affiliate ASLA; “For the Birds, Indeed,” Courtesy Douglas W. Tallamy; “The Greater Margins,” Courtesy Appalachian Trail Conservancy.

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