The new Sustainable Sites Initiative from ASLA and The Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center is a wonderful step in the right direction for sustainable landscapes. In the world where LEED is dominant, the true essence of landscape is sometimes forgotten in a push for drip irrigation and native plantings, it is a positive step to see. In addition, the Cascadia Chapter of the USGBC is offering a companion to the Living Building Challenge entitled the Living Site and Infrastructure Challenge.
The push for formalized sustainable strategies is laudable and necessary, as it seems to drive more sustainable design to assign points/globes/whatnot to a project that to merely design the way we are supposed to. I am equally puzzled by the response to the Sustainable Sites Initiative in this months editorial ‘Completing the Puzzle’ from Metropolis, December 2007 by Susan S. Szenasy:
“I’ve always thought of landscape architects as advocates for nature, proponents of healthy outdoor living who respect the local flora and fauna as well as human needs and cultures. But all too often I’ve been disappointed by their superficial knowledge of these things—or worse yet, their cavalier disregard for them. This new initiative has the potential to put landscape architects, though they come late to the discussion on sustainable design, at the very heart of our ongoing dialogue on ways to integrate the powers of nature with our equally powerful
Hmmm. i’m missing something here? I believe this is a product of the innate ‘quietness’ of Landscape Architecture as a profession – as there is a long history of landscape architects at the forefront of sustainable design… perhaps we are just too nice.