Landscape architecture adds value to construction projects, mitigates climate change

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American landscape architects recently celebrated World Landscape Architecture Month (WLAM).

Each April, American landscape architects join their colleagues around the world in celebrating the profession.

April is the logical month to beat the landscape architecture drum. Earth Day falls on April 22, and the birthday of Frederick Law Olmsted, the creator of Central Park and founder of the profession in North America, is April 27.

WLAM’s intention is to increase the visibility of landscape architecture and to remind the public and the architecture, engineering and construction industry of the role that landscape architects play in the natural and built.

Paul Haden

“A lot of people don’t understand what we do,” said Paul Haden, founder and CEO of C2 Collaborative in San Clemente, California. “Some of them think we are landscapers, mowing lawns and pruning trees. But our job is totally different.

Jeanne Lukenda, a landscape architect in Boston and vice president of communications for the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), says landscape architecture and design enhances institutional, commercial and industrial building projects.

“Landscape architects are increasingly at the intersection of the disciplines of construction, architecture and engineering,” Lukenda said.

Landscape architecture adds value to a project in several ways.

“Several studies have shown that landscape architecture can add up to 20% to a property’s value,” Lukenda said.

Features such as driveways, parking lots and driveways are essential elements of landscape architecture. Their design can have a big impact on how people experience a building or development.

Well-designed landscaping can help direct vehicular and pedestrian traffic and improve access to buildings, reducing congestion and the risk of accidents.

Additionally, thoughtful landscape design can have a positive impact on the energy consumption of a building or development.

Placing trees to provide shade can reduce the load on air conditioning in the summer and block cold winds in the winter.

“The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill) signed by President Joe Biden in 2021 underscored the many disciplines in which landscape architects lead the process. of design,” said Lukenda. “In fact, 13 provisions of the law have been proposed by ASLA.”

Transport, water and natural resource infrastructure are covered by the law.

It has programs such as Healthy Streets, to mitigate dangerous urban heat islands in the summer, and Wildlife Crossings, which funds animal-friendly infrastructure such as bridges, underpasses and roadside fencing.

As the public and private sectors pay more attention to climate change, landscape architects have moved to the forefront of designing eco-friendly spaces.

“The growing urgency for climate action has propelled landscape architects into leadership positions in both outdoor and built environments,” Lukenda said. “Climate action is part of our added value to a project.”

In addition to its research and advocacy in the United States, ASLA works with landscape architecture organizations in other parts of the world, including Canada.

Carolyn Woodland, president of the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects, says her members are busy with many areas of the profession, including climate change and preserving and expanding the canopy of urban trees.

Woodland says urban canopy scans are great planning tools.

“They can provide unique information about the urban forest, such as the relative age of the urban forest and the condition of trees by location, species diversity, and microclimate impacts,” she said. “They may even reveal an inequitable distribution of urban forest among socio-economic communities.”

Woodland says increasing forest cover can mitigate climate change by making landscapes more resilient.

Landscape architecture can mitigate more than climate change, says Erik Lees, founding director of Lees + Associates, landscape architects with projects in California, Hawaii and throughout the western United States.

“Good landscape design can also address urban challenges such as the equitable distribution of open spaces, the contamination of brownfields, the management of storm and rainwater and the control of the albedo effect.

The albedo effect has a major impact on the climate. A low albedo means more solar radiation is absorbed by the earth, resulting in higher temperatures.

“Landscape architecture adds to the total value of a project,” Lees said. “Without that, a development is just a lot of hard, built things.”

Effective landscaping can heal or improve the environment surrounding a project.

“It can heal a site, for example, by ridding it of invasive species or adding vegetation next to a busy road, providing visual separation and reducing traffic noise,” he said. he declares.

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