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September 3, 2015 8:13 PMCategory: Nutrition, Physical Activity

Demonstrating the Value of Sustainable Landscapes

Reposted from the APA Sustaining Places Blog, originally written by Heather Whitlow of the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

Note: To learn more about the Landscape Performance Series, join the Landscape Architecture Foundation and the American Planning Association’s Plan4Health community for a webinar and discussion on Wednesday, September 16, 2015, 12 noon-1 p.m. ET. Register here!

A Resource for Measuring the Impact of Landscapes

The Landscape Architecture Foundation’s (LAF) Landscape Performance Series is an online portal and set of initiatives to build capacity to achieve sustainability and transform the way landscape is valued in the design and development process. It focuses on the measurable environmental, social, and economic benefits of landscapes, bringing together information and innovations from research, industry, academia, and professional practice. Users can navigate the website to find all sorts of metrics and data from a variety of sources, including:

  • Case Study Briefs — Database of exemplary built landscape projects with quantified environmental, economic, and social benefits
  • Fast Fact Library — Short summaries of the benefits of landscape derived from published research
  • Benefits Toolkit — Compilation of online calculators and tools to estimate landscape performance
  • Collections — Themed LPS highlights curated by LAF and leading thinkers

These resources may be explored and searched by Landscape Performance Benefit (e.g. flood protection, educational value, job creation), Feature (e.g. green roof, onsite energy generation, trail), and Tag (e.g. resilience, active living, learning landscapes). The Case Study Briefs also may be filtered by project type, size, location, budget, and climate zone.

Data to Drive Decisions

By compiling evidence-based benefits of sustainable landscapes and making them understandable and accessible to key decision makers, the Landscape Performance Series is bridging the knowledge gap in the design, development, and policy realms about the importance of landscape. Some of the greatest challenges of our time, including climate change and adaption, public health and well-being, urbanization, social isolation and connectivity, and economic stability, serve as a reminder of the vital need to balance human and natural systems and processes.

Landscape must be an integral part of any conversation about sustainability, livability, or resilience; but often the “landscape” part of development amounts to little more than throwing in some trees and plants at the end of a project.

Over 100 searchable examples of landscaping projects can be found on the new Landscape Performance Series. Each example includes data that can be used to highlight the benefits of sustainable landscaping. For example, Klyde Warren Park in Dallas (above) sequesters over 9 tons of CO2 annually.

New Developments

Seventeen new Case Study Briefs will be published this fall, including Houston’s Bagby Street Reconstruction, Rapid City’s Main Street Square in South Dakota, and the Wadi Hanifah rehabilitation of a 120-km river corridor in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The case studies are produced by LAF, working in conjunction with designers and academic research teams to assess and document a variety of environmental, social, and economic benefits. The LandscapePerformance.org case study library includes a wide range of project types, scales, and geographic locations.

The website also features a Landscape Performance News blog and Watch List, Training with landscape performance-related presentations and webinars, Resources for Educators with university teaching materials, and a soon-to-be-released Guide to Evaluate Performance with over 100 metrics and assessment considerations.

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