By Allison Torres Burtka
ASLA is developing resources and initiatives that will help landscape architects design communities that mitigate climate change.
Sustainability • American Society of Landscape Architects
You might not expect to find landscape architects in the army of professionals fighting climate change. But there they are, designing landscapes that help communities adapt to its effects, such as severe flooding, sea level rise, and extreme heat. They also mitigate climate change by creating landscapes that remove carbon from the atmosphere.
In 2017, the American Society of Landscape Architects convened a Blue Ribbon Panel on Climate Change and Resilience, which produced a report—Smart Policies for a Changing Climate—that sets out “core principles, key planning and design strategies, and public policies that will promote healthy, climate-smart, and resilient communities.” Success stories are showcased in an exhibition, both online and on display at its Center for Landscape Architecture in Washington, DC. The exhibition offers many examples of what works.
“We’re trying to raise public awareness that these are very big issues affecting communities now, and landscape architects can help solve them,” says Jacquelyn Bianchini, manager of media relations and public awareness. “Landscape architects can address the problem on the design and planning end, before there is a situation where your community is struck with a flood or facing extreme heat levels.”
ASLA and partner organizations developed the Sustainable SITES Initiative, which certifies sustainable landscapes, similar to LEED building certification. Together, ASLA says, these efforts can help communities get closer to carbon neutral.