Obama Administration Gets Behind Green Buildings

At the U.S. Green Building Council’s government summit, CEO Rick Fedrizzi said more than 450 local governments, 35 state governments, 14 federal departments and agencies and “innumerable school districts” have financed 1.2 billion square feet in LEED space, a “five fold increase over three years ago.” The federal government can now be seen as “a co-founder of the green building movement.” Recently, this effort was given a major boost by President Obama, who announced his Better Buildings Initiative in his recent state of the union address. The Whitehouse says the President’s new buildings plan, which aims to improve energy efficiency, could result in $40 billion in energy savings.

The Obama administration seems serious on building energy efficiency, which it may view as a low-hanging fruit. Nancy Sutley, the President’s lead advisor on the environment and head of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), said buildings, homes, and factories account for 70 percent of energy use. “Just making buildings 20 percent more energy efficient could save $20 billion per year.” She said improved energy efficiency would also reduce air pollution and create new jobs and markets. Next steps on the Better Buildings Initiative include working with Congress to “create the incentives” and making “data about the costs and benefits of green buildings investments clear and accessible.” 

Within the federal government, Sutley said Executive Order 13514, the Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance is having an impact and federal agencies are now being measured in a “transparent way” on their performance in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The order calls for federal building energy use to be reduced by 25 percent by 2020 and all federal buildings to be net-zero by 2030. Buildings must also improve water efficiency by 26 percent and reduce CO2 emissions by 28 percent by 2020.

Sutley also used the event to announce the upcoming launch of a new “Green Ribbon Schools” initiative. She said this was a key component of the President’s plan to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-invest the rest of the world.” The green schools program will also serve as an investment in “creativity” given schools will be involved in their own sustainable redesigns.

Over in the military, sustainability also seems high on the agenda. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said by 2020 the navy will get at least 50 percent of its energy from non-fossil fuel sources. In addition, half of all bases will be net-zero. The U.S. is focused on climate and energy because its deeply connected with national security. “We rely too much on fossil fuels and it degrades out security and impacts our environment. Oil comes from volatile places.”

There has already been some innovation within the navy. One navy jet made a successful flight and another big navy ship runs well using biofuels. Soldiers are now bringing “roll-up solar blankets” with them on missions that can be unfurled to power up iPods and other electronics. “These save soldiers from carrying heavy batteries.” Lastly, many bases already have solar, wind, or geothermal power installations in place.

Image credit: High Tech Chula Vista High, Studio E Architects / Jim Brady Architectural Photography

New Climate Change Report Upends Conventional Wisdom

Conventional thinking in Washington, D.C. holds that conservative foundations, think tanks, businesses, and advocates widely outspent environmental organizations during the cap and trade policy debate. The huge financial advantage of opponents to climate change legislation helped ensure that cap and trade failed in Congress. However, in Climate Shift, a new, somewhat controversial 100-page report from Matthew Nisbet, Associate Professor of Communications at American University and Google Science Communications Fellow, the view is that environmental organizations weren’t outspent and, in some measures, actually had more money than conservatives. Overall, the climate change debate that roiled Washington, D.C. was fueled by huge amounts of money on both sides. Nesbit says: “The effort to pass cap and trade legislation may have been the best-financed political cause in American history.”

Unfortunately for environmental groups, the failure to pass cap and trade has led to some criticism from within the ranks. As one Obama official noted, “they spent like $100 million and they weren’t able to get a single Republican convert on the bill.” There have been questions about the approach taken by the leading environmental groups. Nesbit seems to say the failure to pass legislation may have been the result of a poor strategy and focusing all those lobbying and advocacy resources on a “technocratic” cap and trade system. Instead, the many different environmental groups could have had greater success if they promoted energy technology innovation and came up with an approach for addressing the many “social, political, and cultural dimensions of the climate change challenge.” In other words, a new climate change legislation and regulatory approach needed to be broad based, focus on building support for government investment in innovation, and address the range of messy human issues that create greenhouse gases.

Nesbit writes that environmental groups weren’t outspent in some measures: “Overall, in 2009, the most recent year for which data is available, the major conservative think tanks, advocacy groups, and industry associations took in a total of $907 million in revenue, spent $787 million on all program-related activities, and spent an estimated $259 million specific to climate change and energy policy. In comparison, the national environmental groups took in $1.7 billion in revenue, spent $1.4 billion on program activities, and spent an estimated $394 million on climate change and energy-specific activities.” However, he also adds, in terms of lobbying, environmental organizations had less funds available: Environmental organizations spent $229 million on lobbying in that year in comparison with prominent opponents that spent $272 million.

According to Nesbit, there are some 6,500 national and 20,000 local environmental organizations in the U.S. These groups have 20-30 million members and more than $5 billion in annual revenue. The largest 31 organizations have $2.1 billion in revenue (2002 numbers). Many of these organization receive millions to advocate on climate change. For example, from 2005 to 2009, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) received $40 million from hedge fund trade Julian Robertson. In addition, a strategy of many of these larger environmental organizations maneuvering within the Beltway is to partner with major corporations. Like conservative organizations, environmental groups broadened their base and created coalitions of supporters. No big gaps between the sides there.

The decision to focus on cap and trade may be linked with a 2006  report commissioned by some of the leading foundations: “Design to Win: Philanthropy’s Role in the Fight Against Global Warming.” The report called for a “specific policy agenda” and recommended “tempering climate change” through cap and trade. Nesbit seems somewhat critical of this report, arguing that one of its main features is “its notable absence of any meaningful discussion on the social, political, or cultural dimensions of the climate change challenge.” The report took a “technocratic view,” driven largely by economists, scientists, and engineers. This approach would prove highly influential and guide the funding of nine aligned major foundations, which then funneled funds to environmental organizations and other climate change-focused coalitions.

An interesting table in the report outlines foundation funding associated with specific policy goals during 2008 to 2010. The large chunk of funding was targeted at promoting climate policy and clean energy and building support for cap and trade. A limited number of foundation grants were targeted at promoting energy efficiency within buildings ($8.19 million), smart growth / sustainable municipal planning ($5.02 million), conserving land ($13 million), managing biodiversity ($5 million), or conserving water resources ($5.5 million), among other areas.

Furthermore, in another table indicating funding associated with communications targeted at specific groups, some $43 million was targeted at policy makers and decision makers and additional $32 million towards public outreach. Influentials were the target audience for $14 million in grants. However, only $800,000 was directed at “builders, architects and planners,” clearly a critical group given building construction and operations account for nearly half of all greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. An even lower amount, just $450,000, was focused at health professionals who will have to deal with climate impacts on populations.

Nesbit argues that “contrary to conventional wisdom, […] nine aligned foundations have been strategic in targeting specific policy outcomes as even the Koch brothers [conservative advocates], applying more than 10 times the amount of money in pursuit of their goals.” He goes on to say that “the ‘Design to Win’ report defines climate change in conventional terms, as an environmental problem that required only the mobilization of market incentives and public will. With this definition, comparatively little funding was directed towards fostering the role of government in promoting new technology and innovation. Nor was there equivalent investment in such important human dimensions of the issue as adaptation, health, equity, justice, or economic development.”

Sections of the report also attempt to gauge whether media coverage was biased on climate change. Nesbit finds that “between October 2009 and March 2010, as the Copenhagen meetings took place and debate over Climategate occurred, 75 percent of all articles reflected the consensus view.” He and his researchers examined coverage from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, CNN.com, Politico, and The Washington Post, news sources that key policymakers and influentials in Washington, D.C. read.

He also argues that ideology can partially explain how concerned someone is about climate change. Nesbit says “the difference between how Republicans and Democrats view the issue is wider today than at any other time in history.” He points to studies at Yale University that conclude “perceptions of scientific consensus on climate change vary by an individual’s cultural values and in relation to the inferred course of policy action.” He examines the members of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), who responded to an in-depth survey, and finds that “ideology shapes how these non-specialists view the causes and seriousness of climate change.” However, he adds that recent social psychological research shows that “people have a finite pool of worry,” and there’s an “inverse relationship between public worry over climate change and the unemployment rate over 1997-2011.”

Nesbit concludes that instead of focusing on the “threats of climate change,” a new emphasis on “energy security and the need for innovation” may be the way to go. As opposed to the “green” group, the “innovation” group of environmentalists sees conservatives and industry as “potential partners.” There’s another story that he says needs to be told: many communities are far ahead in planning for climate impacts, but poorer communities that lack economic competitiveness are already falling farther behind in their efforts to become more resilient.

To add, there may need to a greater focus on critical sectors like the building industry that account for 30 percent of global emissions (and nearly half of those in the U.S.) and increasing public support for existing, pragmatic movements like the U.S. Green Building Council (with its LEED and LEED-ND systems), Architecture 2030, and Sustainable Sites Initiative™  (SITES®), which are laying paths for more sustainable future practices and all have business support.

Finally, while the report has garnered some support among some climate change experts, including Roger Pielke Jr, and journalists from TIME magazine and The New York Times’ Dot Earth blog, there are others who have been critical and it’s worth noting their arguments. Joe Romm at Climate Progress raises many questions about how the numbers on environmental and conservative funding of climate change were developed. One reviewer also pulled his name from the report after its release.

Read the report online or in PDF format.

Image credit: Climate Change Protest / Power Past Coal

Design New Public Spaces for the Large Hadron Collider

The city of Geneva has launched an international competition to design an “emblematic reception area” for CERN, the prestigious international particle physics research organization home to the large hadron collider (LHC). Geneva seeks landscape architecture and urban design firms that specialize in developing urban public places that can accomodate many types of visitors. The CERN facility receives 100,000 visitors annually. An additional 10,000 physicists and technicians go to work there each day.

The new gateway and public spaces will just be the first visible component of the future CERN campus master plan. The public area, estimated to be one hectare, will need to be completed by 2014 while the master plan will need to be in place by 2030. The goal is to provide scientists a “friendly and attractive working environment on a par with world-class fundamental research.” The Geneva city government also says that the new reception area will be an integral part of a broader plan for the development of the France – Switzerland border region and will be the “hub of the seven development poles of the future ‘Circle of Innovation.'”

According to CERN, the LHC is a gigantic scientific instrument about 100 meters underground. The entry is near Geneva but the entire LHC’s 27-kilometer circular tunnel crosses the subterranean border between Switzerland and France. Here’s a description of what LHC does: “It’s a particle accelerator used by physicists to study the smallest known particles – the fundamental building blocks of all things. Two beams of subatomic particles called ‘hadrons’ – either protons or lead ions – will travel in opposite directions inside the circular accelerator, gaining energy with every lap. Physicists will use the LHC to recreate the conditions just after the Big Bang, by colliding the two beams head-on at very high energy.”

After a somewhat rocky start, the facility is also now functioning well. Beginning in March 2010, CERN physicists successfully smashed two proton particle beams travelling at 99 percent the speed of light at record high energy levels (3.5 TeV [trillion electron volts] of energy).

The New York Times says the goals of the scientists include “finding the identity of the dark matter that shapes the visible cosmos and the strange particle known as the Higgs boson, which is thought to imbue other particles with mass.”

The project budget will be CHF 5 million (€ 3.8 million or USD 5.4 million). Firms from all countries are invited to submit letters of interest after May 16, 2011. Competition winners will be announced in December. A guided site tour is scheduled for June 27, 2011. Please sign up with daniele.lajust@cern.ch.

Learn more about the design competition. Also, check out this pop-up book on the LHC.

Image credit: (1) CERN / Brian Walker, (2) CERN public gateway map / CERN, (3) LHC / CERN

Planetizen’s Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs

Planetizen just released its 2012 guide to graduate urban planning programs, which covers more than 100 programs in the U.S. and Canada. This comprehensive, well-produced 340-page report includes rankings of the top 25 schools, detailed profiles on programs, and interviews with practitioners and current grad students. Planetizen Editor Chris Steins said: “Our goal is to give prospective urban planning students the information they need to make a decision about where to pursue a graduate degree in urban planning.”

Given that the domains of landscape architecture and planning increasingly intersect, particularly in urban areas, more undergraduate landscape architecture students may want to consider a planning graduate degree or a combination of planning and landscape architecture graduate degrees.

For those considering the plunge into the world of planning, here’s how Planetizen describes the field: “Urban planning is about places – their creation, their function, their maintenance, and their improvement. In its most general sense, the field of urban or city planning involves the coordination of the growth and development of human settlements, from small villages to the world’s largest metropolises. Cities and towns serve as the basic building blocks of modern society, operating as centers of commerce and trade, government and politics, and knowledge and culture. Cities are also now home to about half of the world’s population. With urban areas playing such an important role, the task of designing well-functioning and efficient cities that can provide healthy and attractive environments for people to live, work and play is more important than ever.”

Planetizen‘s ranking system is based on data collected from schools and opinions gathered from planning educators. 105 schools received surveys and 75 responded. More than 370 educators also responded. In total, 30 indicators across four criteria were used to craft the rankings.

The top five schools:

1) Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
2) Cornell University
3) Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
4) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
5) University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

In addition to its top 25 rankings, Planetizen breaks out degree programs by specialization. For example, readers can find programs that specialize in environmental / sustainability planning, infrastructure planning, land use / physical planning, regional planning, transportation planning, and urban design, areas that can complement landscape architecture studies. 

For each specialization, Planetizen also identifies the ones recognized for high performance among educators. In the environmental / sustainability planning category, which includes almost 60 programs, the University of California, Berkeley; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Virginia were all “highly rated” by a significant number of planning educators.

To produce the guide, Planetizen also consulted with a special committee of the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning (ACSP) to ensure that the “2012 edition met the needs and expectations of students, planning programs and faculty alike.”

See the list of top 10 programs and purchase the guide.

Also, check out some of the most recent ASLA professional analysis and planning awards to see how planning and landscape architecture interact.

Image credit: Planetizen

AIA Announces Top 10 Green Buildings

The Committee on the Environment (COTE) at the American Institute of Architects (AIA) selected their list of the best examples of sustainable building design this year. According to AIA, the awards program, now in its 15th year, celebrates “projects that are the result of a thoroughly integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology.” In addition, winning green buildings make a “positive contribution to their communities, improve comfort for building occupants and reduce environmental impacts through strategies such as reuse of existing structures, connection to transit systems, low-impact and regenerative site development, energy and water conservation, use of sustainable or renewable construction materials, and design that improves indoor air quality.” 

Many of the winners optimize daylight, reduce or eliminate the use of toxic materials, feature high percentages of recycled materials, enable owners more control over energy and water usage, and offer energy and water efficiency measures, including green roofs and high performance landscape architecture. A few buildings use passive design techniques. Many were also certified at the LEED Platinum or Gold levels.

Cherokee Studios, Los Angeles
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

“The design maximizes the opportunities of the mild, Southern California climate with a passive cooling strategy. Together with high-efficiency LED and electric lighting, photo and occupancy sensors, and natural daylighting – energy use was minimized. 100% of the total regularly occupied building area is day lit and can be ventilated with operable windows. A combination of cool roof covered in solar panels, green roof, and blown-in cellulose insulation complete an efficient building shell exceeding California Title 24 by 47%.”

First Unitarian Society Meeting House, Madison, WI
The Kubala Washatko Architects, Inc.

“The 20,000-square-foot addition to the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed national historic landmark Meeting House is approximately 40% more efficient than a comparable base case facility. The addition nearly doubles the building footprint but a vegetated roof and a reduction in parking spaces actually increases the percentage of pervious vegetated surface on the property.”

Susanne Payne, ASLA, Ken Saiki Design, was the landscape architect for the project.

Kiowa County K-12 Schools, Greensburg, KS
BNIM Architects

“The site and building design reduce the urban heat island effect on Greensburg through open area allocation and diverse landscaping. A 50-kilowatt wind turbine provides a portion of the electricity needs while the remaining power is generated at the wind farm located outside of town.”

Jim Schuessler, ASLA, BNIM, was the landscape architect for the project.

High Tech High Chula Vista, Chula Vista, CA
Studio E Architects

“This public charter school serving 550 students in grades 9-12 with an approach rooted in project-based learning uses a building management system which integrates a weather station, and monitors and controls the lighting and mechanical systems of the facilities, in addition to the irrigation and domestic water systems.”

Michael Vail, ASLA, Ivy Landscape Architects, was the landscape architect for the project.

LIVESTRONG Foundation, Austin, TX
Lake|Flato Architects

“The adaptive reuse of a 1950’s built warehouse transformed the concrete tilt-wall building to provide a multi-functional office space for the staff of 62. 88% of the materials from the demolition of the dilapidated warehouse were recycled and used in the new design. In order to allow for the most engaging open office environment, the team replaced the roof’s center bays with north facing clerestory windows that harvest ample diffused daylight for the core workspace.”

Christine Ten Eyck, FASLA, Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, was the landscape architect for the project.

LOTT Clean Water Alliance, Olympia, WA
The Miller | Hull Partnership

“While most sewage treatment plants are invisible to their communities and separated by a chain link fence, the LOTT Clean Water Alliance Regional Service Center is a visible and active participant in the public life of Olympia. Different strategies were utilized to control solar heat gain, improve the energy performance of the building, and introduce daylight and provide views.”

Scott Murase, Affiliate ASLA, Murase Associates, was the landscape architect.

OS House, Racine, WI
Johnsen Schmaling Architects

“The local climate, with its very cold winters and hot, humid summers, required a careful mix of active and passive design strategies to ensure proper interior conditioning. Taking advantage of the lake breeze and the site’s solar exposure, outdoor rooms were created to reduce the house’s depth, allowing for maximum natural cross-ventilation and daylight to wash the inside.”

Dan Riesdorf, Milaeger’s Landscape Design, was the landscape architect on the project.

Research Support Facility (RSF) at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Golden, CO
RNL Design

“With the goal of creating the largest commercial net-zero energy structure in the country, the building is meant to serve as a blueprint for a net-zero energy future and influence others in the building industry to pursue low energy and net-zero energy performance. NREL and Department of Energy’s goal is to transform innovative research in renewable energy and energy efficiency into market-viable technologies and practices. Many of the integrated passive design strategies such as daylighting and natural ventilation strongly support both energy and human performance. An open office plan resulted in a higher density workplace reducing the building footprint per person.”

Landscape architecture by Marc Stutzman, ASLA, RNL Design.

Step Up on 5th, Santa Monica, CA
BROOKS + SCARPA (formerly Pugh + Scarpa)

“This mixed-use project provides 46 studio apartments of permanent affordable housing and supportive services for the homeless and mentally disabled population in the heart of downtown Santa Monica. The density of the project is 258 dwelling units/acre, which exceeds the average density of the Manhattan borough of New York City by more than 10%.”

Vancouver Convention Centre West, Vancouver, British Columbia
Design Architect: LMN Architects, Prime Architects: DA/MCM

“As the world’s first LEED Platinum convention center, this project is designed to bring together the complex ecology, vibrant local culture and urban environment, embellishing their inter-relationships through architectural form and materiality. The living roof, at 6 acres it is the largest in Canada, hosts some 400,000 indigenous plants. Free cooling economizers provide cooling for most of the busy seasons for the convention centre.”

Landscape architecture by PWL Partnership.

Explore the winning projects to learn more about the sustainable landscape approaches used.

Also, check out the Princeton Review’s list of the top 311 green college campuses.

Image credit: LOTT Clean Water Alliance / Nic Lehoux

Your Garden Matters

The New American Landscape: Leading Voices on the Future of Sustainable Gardening argues that making home gardening practices more sustainable is instrumental to tackling global warming, pollution, habitat loss, water shortages, and diminishing biodiversity. As editor Thomas Christopher explains in the introduction, yard and garden equipment “fugitive dust” accounts for about 5 percent of our nation’s air pollution. Additionally, the use of invasive non-native plant species causes a range of costly problems. Municipalities in Florida have spent $250 million over 30 years in an effort to control invasive, exotic plants.

Instead of exacerbating these issues, gardeners must harness the many ecosystem services provided by natural systems and design gardens that support and strengthen local ecologies. This how-to guide clearly demonstrates how gardeners’ sustainable practices can positively shape our shared enviroment.

Plant pathologist and botanist David Deardoff and naturalist Kathryn Wadsworth outline a nine-point program in “Sustainable Solutions” so that an “artificially constructed community of strangers we call a garden soon begins to form a community of organisms we call an ecosystem.”

In the second chapter, “Managing the Home Landscapes as a Sustainable Site,” the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) and Thomas Christopher apply principles outlined in SITES to build a vocabulary and measurable system for improving the sustainability of home gardens, much like the U.S. Green Building Council has done with LEED. “The central message of the SITES is that all landscapes—including home landscapes—hold the potential both to improve and to regenerate the natural benefits and services provided by ecosystems.”

John Greenlee, an author and nurseryman along with prairie-plant expert Neil Diboll, guide the readers through the process of reconceptualizing and reconstructing the American garden. In “The New American Meadow Garden,” Greenlee writes “meadows can honor regionality instead of trying to homogenize the country.” He continues: “by doing so, they will not just add beauty, but actually enhance the local ecology.”

Rick Darke, who is the Curator of Plants at Longwood Gardens, specializes in wild gardening in a modern ecological context.  In “Balancing Natives and Exotics in the Garden,” he covers arguments for and against natives and exotics. “Native status is a function of time and place. The terms ‘native’ or ‘indigenous’ then mean that the species in question is an integral part of local evolutionary relationships.” He says: “perhaps our thinking will evolve away from worrying about whether plants are native or not, and toward a valuation of how they function in today’s ecology.  After all, it’s the only one we’ve got.”  He asks tough questions about plants choice for a sustainable garden. “Native or not, plants poorly adapted to existing conditions are among the least sustainable choices.”

In “The Sustainable Edible Garden,” Eric Toensmeier, who was recognized by the American Horticultural Society for his book Perennial Vegetables, states that “if we focus exclusively on native plants in our landscapes, we are externalizing the ecological costs of our food production.” He runs through various approaches, such as backyard micro-livestock, and lists low-maintenance food crops that can effectively transform a yard into a culinary bounty.

“Gardening Sustainable with a Changing Climate,” written by Cornell Professor David W. Wolfe, offers hope for gardeners.“Gardeners like to experiment, and, unlike farmers, they have the luxury of being able to be adventurous without risking their entire livelihood on it. In this way, gardeners can lead the way to what is possible in a changing climate.” Wolfe discusses the effects of climate change for gardeners and lists ways that gardeners can concretely improve the sustainability of their plots while weathering the sometimes-unpredictable variations.

Thomas Christopher discusses how gardeners can not only reduce the need to water, but also design gardens that clean stormwater runoff. He begins “Waterwise Gardens” by arguing that assessing your region’s water climates is essential to choosing plants. To complement the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, he highlights precipitation data. The “availability of water is at least as crucial to plant growth as tolerance to cold, but clearly, the presumption is that unlimited water for irrigation may be had just by opening your tap.” He then outlines how to measure the absorption rate of your soil and then make and maintain a rain garden. 

In the eighth chapter, Edmund C. Snodgrass and Landscape Architecture Magazine writer Linda McIntyre write “Green Roofs in the Sustainable Residential Landscape”, which outlines basic principles for examining the potential site of a green roof, including structural considerations, drainage and slope, shade, surrounding landscape situation, construction logistics, and maintenance. They encourage home-owners to “help promote greater acceptance of and enthusiasm for green roof technology.”

University of Delaware Professor of entomology and wildlife ecology Douglas W. Tallamy explores “how our wholesale replacement of native plant communities with disparate collections of plants from other parts of the world is pushing our local animals to the brink of extinction” in “Flipping the Paradigm: Landscapes That Welcome Wildlife.” He encourages gardeners to consider the carrying capacity of their plots so that balanced communities can foster dense, complex food webs.

Elaine R. Ingham, an internationally recognized soil scientist, connects garden design choices to their effects on the soil food web. “Managing Soil Health” educates the reader about the basic role and types of soil bacteria, soil fungi, soil protozoa, and micro-arthropods and annelids. Additionally, Ingham writes that “when a pest or disease attacks a plant in your garden, the information being conveyed is that he plant is stressed and unhealthy.” She argues poor soil health is the primary cause of common gardeners’ problems.

Toby Hemenway, who lectures worldwide on permaculture and ecological design, strings together the diverse voices in the book in the last chapter, “Landscapes in the Image of Nature: Whole System Garden Design.” He writes that often a tree is chosen to be a part of a landscape for its foliage, and comments that “when we plant a tree solely for foliage, we’re quite literally missing the forest for the trees, and ignoring a wealth of opportunities to connect ourselves and our landscapes to the environment that we are dependent on for everything.”  He offers a five-zone framework that works outward from the space closest to the house to its lot boundary and explains how to move towards natural, maintenance-free wildlife habitats.

Read the book.

This guest post is by Amanda Rosenberg, ASLA 2010 Advocacy and Communications Intern

Image credit: Timber Press