How can architects, developers, and planners better partner with landscape architects to achieve shared goals on greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon drawdown? How can residential, commercial, and public landscapes be designed to advance long-term climate resilience?
To answer these questions, ASLA has organized a dynamic session — Improve Your Carbon Drawdown: Leverage Landscape Architecture Strategies to Increase Sequestration and Resilience — at the upcoming 2023 Greenbuild Conference in Washington, D.C. The live session will be on September 29 at 8.30 AM EST.
The session features landscape architecture climate leaders:
Moderator: Katie Riddle, ASLA, Director of Professional Practice at ASLA
Landscape architects who led the creation of the ASLA Climate Action Plan and its implementation through the ASLA Climate Action Committee will outline how landscape architecture strategies, including nature-based solutions, provide significant carbon benefits and a range of economic, equity, biodiversity, public health co-benefits. They will explain the latest landscape architecture approaches that can be used to conceptualize, plan, and design projects, including Sasaki’s updated Carbon Conscience tool.
“We can only achieve carbon drawdown through the creation of diverse living systems. To protect, sustain, and regenerate complex ecological networks in harsh environments, we need to use an integrative design process. This is crucial to ensure that every design decision — regardless of which discipline made the decision — supports that goal,” Almiñana said.
“When we integrate landscape into whole-project life cycle assessments, we can take advantage of potential carbon sinks in the landscape through ecosystem preservation and restoration. We can also realize the often overlooked externalities of site infrastructure and hardscape spaces. Partnering with landscape architects early in the process can inform teams how to best leverage sites, mitigate the potential impacts of site design, and achieve greenhouse gas emission reduction goals,” Hardy said.
Danielle Pieranunzi, SITES Director at GBCI, will explain how certifications and guidelines, such as the SITES v2 Rating System — specifically the Pilot Credit 3: Assess and Improve Carbon Performance — and other open-source tools can lower the carbon footprint of projects.
“The carbon footprint of the built environment is often understood in terms of construction, building energy use, and transportation. However, landscapes and outdoor spaces have the unique capacity to sequester carbon to help mitigate climate change. It is essential to include those with expertise in ecology and landscape architecture early — prior to design and throughout the development process — in order to achieve shared goals on greenhouse gas emission reductions and carbon drawdown. Using SITES and LEED certification ensures that such goals can be prioritized and not value engineered out,” Pieranunzi said.
Our community — the architecture, engineering, and construction industry — must transform standard practice by taking responsibility for the climate impacts of our projects — from the regional, city, to neighborhood and site scales.
The climate emergency requires both organizational and individual action to reduce emissions in all planning and design stages and prioritizing nature-based solutions in a meaningful way.
The assessment provides a baseline accounting of energy used and greenhouse gas emissions and waste generated, which ASLA will use to measure and improve its environmental and social impacts on an annual basis. The assessment also outlines the many positive actions ASLA has taken to make access to the conference more equitable, donate EXPO products, reuse waste materials, and support the communities that host the conference.
Based on these findings, ASLA has committed to event sustainability strategies that will improve the outcomes of its 2023 Conference, which will be held October 27-30 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“With our Strategic Plan, released in 2021, we committed to reducing the emissions from our conference and headquarters operations by 20 percent by 2024. And through our ambitious ASLA Climate Action Plan, released in November 2022, we made the additional commitment to achieve zero emissions in our conference and operations by 2040. We are now moving forward to achieve our goals,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Coneen.
“Landscape architects are climate leaders, and we are committed to identifying and reducing our negative impacts on the climate and increasing the benefits for our host communities. We think it’s important to be transparent about both the positive and negative impacts of our annual convening and where we are in our learning journey. We are sharing lessons learned from our journey with our members and partners, so we can move faster together,” said ASLA President Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA.
To reduce adverse climate and environmental impacts and leave a positive legacy in Minneapolis, ASLA is committing to implementing these strategies at its 2023 Conference:
Creating climate change and biodiversity educational tracks at its Conference
Implementing a range of measures related to food, energy, water, and waste to reduce impacts
Offsetting 1,500 tons of its carbon dioxide emissions
Launching a new sustainability commitment for EXPO exhibitors
Providing free registrations for invited Twin Cities-based climate equity and justice leaders to attend the conference
Providing free registrations for invited Twin Cities-based climate youth leaders (high school students) to attend the conference
Developing a strategy to reduce transportation emissions for attendees and exhibitors traveling to and from the conference and while traveling in the host city.
Greenhouse Gas Emission Offsets
While it pursues its near-term goal of reducing emissions 20 percent by 2024, ASLA has committed to purchasing 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide emission offsets in 2023. For the past two years, ASLA has collected offset contributions from its members. In 2022, ASLA contributed those funds to Trees for Oakland and Clear.Eco.
For the ASLA 2023 Conference on Landscape Architecture, ASLA announced a new partnership with Green Minneapolis, an innovator in urban tree carbon offsets, to scale up those efforts. The lead sponsor of ASLA 2023 Conference carbon offsets is Bartlett Tree Experts.
Green Minneapolis collaborated with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to complete the first urban tree carbon offset project in Minnesota. The project is part of the Twin Cities Climate Resiliency Initiative, a public private partnership that will significantly expand the urban tree canopy across Minneapolis and the seven county Twin Cities metropolitan area.
Through City Forest Credits, a national nonprofit carbon registry, the urban tree carbon offset project has achieved third-party verification for its carbon credits. The project includes 23,755 city trees planted by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board from 2019 to 2021. Over its 25-year duration, the project is estimated to store 48,865 metric tons of carbon and will provide quantified co-benefits related to rainfall interception, air quality, and energy savings.
According to Green Minneapolis offset funds collected by ASLA and its members will “support a 20-year vision to increase the metro area’s tree canopy through planting and maintaining five million trees on public and private lands, with a focus on addressing environmental inequities in the most disadvantaged communities.”
Attendees and exhibitors: Please offset your attendance at the ASLA 2023 Conference during the registration process or via this contribution form.
ASLA will use its own headquarters assessment to educate its members and partners on how to reduce their own office operational impacts and meet the goals of the ASLA Climate Action Plan.
ASLA is also working with partners to develop a more complete picture of the transportation emissions from shipping freight for EXPO booth materials from points of origin. This upcoming initiative will provide new opportunities for ASLA and its corporate members to achieve a lower-impact EXPO together.
By the end of 2023, ASLA plans to have a fuller understanding of its climate, environmental, and social impacts across the conference, EXPO, and headquarters operations. As it pursues impact reductions, ASLA aims to offset 100 percent of its emissions in coming years.
The program, which launched in February 2022, is designed to support women of color in their pursuit of landscape architecture licensure and provide mentorship opportunities that position women for success. The program aims to increase racial and gender diversity within the profession and was inspired by ASLA’s Racial Equity Plan of Action, which was released in 2020.
The new class of the program includes 10 women who identify as Black, Latine, Indigenous, South Asian, and East Asian – groups that are the most statistically underrepresented among licensed landscape architects.
The class includes women based in Florida, Washington, California, Texas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Washington, D.C. who are involved in private practice and landscape architectural education.
Fatema Ali Tushi, ASLA, Civil Designer, Civilitude Engineers & Planners, San Antonio, TX
Allyssa Williams, ASLA, Designer, DHM Design, Durango, CO
“ASLA is committed to growing a more diverse profession – and that means improving access to licensure. With this new class, we continue to build on the successes of the inaugural class and elevate women of color in our landscape architecture community,” said ASLA President Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA. “These 10 amazing women contribute to their communities, have overcome obstacles, and are committed to the profession of landscape architecture.”
“ASLA has steadfastly supported and defended licensure across the country, and the Woman of Color Licensure Advancement Program is a natural extension of this commitment,” said Torey Carter-Conneen, ASLA CEO. “The program not only reaffirms the profession’s role in protecting the public’s health and safety, but also advances the economic benefits of licensure to more people. As The Alliance for Responsible Licensing concluded in its 2021 report, among technical fields like landscape architecture, a license narrows the gender-driven wage gap by about a third and the race-driven gap by about half.”
The program will provide each of the women with a personalized experience that provides more than $3,500 to cover the cost of sections of the Landscape Architectural Registration Exam (LARE), along with exam preparation courses, resources, and mentorship from a licensed landscape architect.
The new class was selected by a committee of women of color:
Valerie Aymer, ASLA, Associate Professor of Practice, Landscape Architecture, Department of Landscape Architecture, Cornell University
Aida Curtis, ASLA, Principal, Curtis + Rogers Design, Inc.
Alexandra Mei, ASLA, Director of Landscape Architecture, Christner Architect
The ASLA Women of Color Licensure Advancement Program was initiated with a generous $100,000 donation by former ASLA President Wendy Miller, FASLA, and James Barefoot; Marq Truscott, FASLA; Rachel Ragatz Truscott; and Council of Landscape Architectural Registration Boards (CLARB).
Yu is founder of the Peking University College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture and founder and principal designer of Turenscape. His firm, which has a staff of more than 400, plans and designs landscapes that “combat flooding while repairing ecological damage.”
“The award means that no matter our differences among peoples and nations, there is one common ground we have to hold together: taking care of planet Earth. We have to get together to heal this ill planet,” Yu said.
He also sees the award as a win for developing countries like China. “It is a huge encouragement for those who are working hard to establish themselves from the grassroots; for those who made their career in underdeveloped regions, in the most difficult parts of the world.”
In an interview, Yu offered his thoughts on future opportunities and challenges for landscape architects. He outlined his design philosophy and how it can serve as a roadmap for leadership on nature-based solutions and climate and biodiversity action.
Yu foresees an explosion in demand for landscape architects in China and other developing countries. “I am expecting revolutionary development of the profession of landscape architecture in the developing world where landscape architects are badly needed.”
“I believe landscape architects are coming into a golden era. We are positioning ourselves at the forefront in the battle for climate adaptation and planetary healing, particularly in China, India, Southeast Asia, South America, and Africa, where climate change is mingled with issues of urbanization, industrialization, and food security.”
“But there are also many obstacles that landscape architects need to overcome,” he added.
“The top obstacle is our lack of capacity. We need to breakthrough the boundaries of professional and disciplinary stratification. This will involve restructuring institutions, changing school programs, and redefining landscape architecture at a much larger scope, toward the art of survival.”
Yu founded his China-based firm Turenscape in 1998 with an ambitious goal — “nature, man, and spirits as one.”
“Tu-Ren is two characters in Chinese. Tu means dirt, earth, or the land, while Ren means people, man, or human being. Once these two characters come together, Tu-ren, it means ‘Earth Man,’ a relationship between land and people. The firm’s philosophy is to recreate the harmony between land and people and create sustainable environments for the future. We act in the name of the Heaven (Nature) and as messengers of the spirits of our native forebears,” he explained.
Yu brings that philosophy to his work planning and designing nature-based solutions that integrate wetlands, mangroves, and forests.
“Any sustainable landscape is nature-based. Landscape is a synonym for nature when one discusses landscape architecture in the context of its sister professions such as architecture and urban planning. Landscape architecture is about using knowledge and skills related to adaptation, transformation, and the management of nature to harness ecosystem services — such as provision, regulation, life support, beauty, and spiritual benefit — for humanity’s long-term and short-term needs. This is the essential core of nature-based solutions.”
And he also shared some news about how his combined practice and academic work are advancing these goals. “The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has recently signed a memorandum of understanding with Peking University to establish a joint research program at our campus focusing on nature-based solution best practices. This is largely the landscape planning, design, and management work of Turenscape.”
Yu believes landscape architects’ ability to bring together multiple disciplines and leverage science and engineering will help solve the climate crisis.
“Landscape architects play a key role in addressing climate change, both in terms of mitigation and adaptation, particularly the latter. Landscape architecture is the cornerstone of the intellectual mansion of arts, sciences, and engineering that jointly stand together to address climate change. That is why I am so glad to see landscape architecture recently listed as a STEM discipline in the U.S.”
He envisions landscape architects leading the way, pulling together a range of professions to form enduring solutions.
“Ian McHarg defined a landscape architect as a conductor, who orchestrates disciplines and professionals and integrates all abiotic and biotic processes into a harmoniously performing ecosystem through the skill of designing in the physical medium of landscape.”
Landscape architects see need for new product data and tools to better measure and reduce impacts from their projects
ASLA has released its first national survey on the role of landscape architecture products in achieving decarbonization and biodiversity goals. A cross-section of landscape architects, designers, and landscape architecture educators in the U.S. responded to the survey in June 2023.
According to the survey results, landscape architects seek:
Increased collaboration with product manufacturers, universities, and allied organizations to research, analyze, and reduce climate and biodiversity impacts of products.
New product data to better measure carbon in projects, including:
Embodied carbon factors for materials
Projected carbon sequestration of tree species
Greenhouse gas emissions of products’ entire lifecycle
New local options for 14 product categories to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transporting products.
A new open-source landscape architecture product data library and carbon factor dataset.
And to address potential biodiversity impacts, they seek new research and knowledge sharing.
“Our ambitious Climate Action Plan, released last year, called for all landscape architecture projects to achieve zero embodied and operational emissions and increase carbon sequestration by 2040. It also called for all projects to restore ecosystems and increase and protect biodiversity. The products used in projects are absolutely central to landscape architects achieving these goals,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen.
“The survey clearly shows that landscape architects and product manufacturers must deepen their collaboration to reduce the climate and biodiversity impacts of materials in built landscapes. We can only achieve our goals by working together, being more transparent about materials, and increasing our collective performance,” said ASLA National Climate Action Committee Chair April Phillips, FASLA.
Reducing Climate Impacts
According to Climate Positive Design, some 75 percent of landscape architecture projects’ greenhouse gas emissions result from embodied carbon. These are the emissions released from the manufacturing, transport, installation, and construction of products used in landscape projects. The other 25 percent is associated with operational emissions, which are released by powering and maintaining landscapes.
In landscape architecture projects, there is a need to:
Reduce the use of products with high embodied carbon
Increase green space that sequesters carbon
Use more locally sourced products, which means lower transportation emissions.
Third-party verification of the greenhouse gas emissions from products is another key action because it enables landscape architects to accurately measure the carbon footprint of their projects.
The survey finds that some landscape architects are decarbonizing their projects through the products they specify, but the approach is not yet widespread.
Key survey findings
24% of landscape architects surveyed state that clients are setting greenhouse gas emission budgets for one or more of their projects. 2% stated an emissions budget is in place for all their projects.
56% of landscape architects surveyed ask for third party-verified environmental product data, including Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs), at some stage in the design process.
There is significant demand for specifying local products to reduce transportation emissions. A majority of landscape architects would specify local products from a range of categories if they were available, including:
Aggregates and aggregate stabilization
Concrete and concrete products
Soils and soil amendments
Brick, tile, and fired masonry products
Erosion and sediment control products
Fencing or metal fabrications
Wood or wood products
Drainage or piping
To reduce embodied carbon from products and also increase the use of products that sequester carbon, landscape architects see the need for additional industry-wide product data.
The product data most in demand:
Embodied carbon factors of materials, which measures the embodied greenhouse gas emissions per mass of a given material
Projected carbon sequestration by species of trees
Greenhouse gas emissions of products’ entire lifecycle
Greenhouse gas emissions for transporting products to project sites
Greenhouse gas emissions savings from the use of innovative materials
To move forward, landscape architects called for:
Creation of a shared, curated product data library
Best practices for landscape architects, product manufacturers, and the construction communities.
Creation of a shared, curated carbon factor dataset for materials
Reducing Biodiversity Impacts
Products used in landscape architecture projects can have adverse impacts on biodiversity and ecosystems.
Products that include mined, extracted, or harvested materials or certain chemicals can potentially negatively affect species and ecosystems. The construction and installation of products can also impact ecosystems in and surrounding project sites.
There is currently no standard way to measure the biodiversity impacts of products used in landscape architecture projects, with the exception of wood products, which can be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and tracked through chain of custody approaches. Other tools evaluate the chemical content of products.
To reduce potential adverse biodiversity impacts from products, landscape architects called for:
Knowledge sharing between product manufacturers and landscape architects at the ASLA Conference on Landscape Architecture
Funding an industry-wide biodiversity protection product protocol
Trend analysis on current approaches to reducing biodiversity impacts from construction
Product Manufacturers’ Perspective
In June 2023, ASLA also polled product manufacturers that represent more than 30 product areas and industries. 48 product manufacturers responded. Given there are an estimated 6,000 manufacturers marketing products to landscape architects, this poll doesn’t constitute a representative sample.
34% of product manufacturers polled stated they have plans in place to further decarbonize their products or manufacturing process and are making investments to achieve these plans.
30% stated they have measured greenhouse gas emissions from their product manufacturing process. 26% have measured the emissions from sourcing materials.
The ASLA Climate Action Committee and ASLA Corporate Member Committee, which includes product manufacturers, are developing a series of free webinars to support landscape architects and product manufacturers in decarbonizing projects and processes and improving biodiversity outcomes.
Like many organizations, ASLA released a statement condemning the decision. ASLA found the ruling “short-sighted” because it “ignores science and the well-documented hydrological understanding of the interconnection of water sources.”
This statement was rooted in ASLA’s long-held, science-based policy positions on the waters of the United States and wetlands, and a legacy of comments sent to administrations, including the Biden-Harris administration during its last rule making process in 2022. ASLA’s positions were crafted from feedback from members who found recent definitions of waters of the U.S. and policies unclear and not grounded in hydrological or climate science.
According to a national poll issued by The New York Times, 72 percent of Americans also disagreed with the recent Supreme Court decision and believe the “Clean Water Act should be read broadly and include things like wetlands.”
And as landscape architects and ecologists know, “what is a wetland isn’t as black and white as the Supreme Court defined,” said Steven Spears, FASLA, project principal with Momark Development and GroundWork.
“The Supreme Court decision was wrong for a number of reasons,” said Keith Bowers, FASLA, president and founder of Biohabitats and a professional wetland scientist. “The decision was not based on science.”
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the recent Supreme Court ruling defines waters of the U.S. as “relatively permanent bodies of water connected to traditional navigable waters.”
It defined some wetlands as waters of the U.S. if they have a “continuous surface connection to other jurisdictional waters, so that there is no clear demarcation between the bodies.” But the decision excludes other wetlands that are “neighboring waters but are separated by natural or artificial barriers.”
“The ruling interpreted wetland adjacency differently. The Supreme Court said a wetland needs to have a surface nexus with a stream, river, or navigable water to be federally protected. But we know wetlands are connected to other water bodies through both groundwater and surface flows, which may be continuous or not,” Bowers said.
“There is a lot to unpack with the Supreme Court ruling and more clarity will come in time,” Spears said. But the Supreme Court decision “just sees wetlands on a black and white basis. It also fails to account for wetland quality.”
The Sacketts sued the EPA in 2008 because it classified wetlands on their property in Idaho as waters of the U.S. The wetlands were near a ditch that fed into a creek, which then fed into Priest Lake, a navigable, intrastate lake.
In its recent decision, the Supreme Court essentially found that “the wetlands were not waters of the U.S. because they were separated from the lake by a road – even though they were connected to the lake under that road by a culvert,” Spears said.
Spears thinks it’s possible the wetlands in question were low-quality and that filling them in had little impact on the broader water quality of the lake. But it’s hard to tell because the ecosystem services of the particular wetlands weren’t measured.
“The Supreme Court decision is frustrating because it just states a wetland is either a wetland or not, regardless of the performance of the wetland and what ecosystem services it provides.”
At Austin Green in Austin, Texas, Spears and his firm, GroundWork, led a redevelopment of a former sandy gravel mine that was created before the Clean Water Act went into effect in 1972.
The brownfield site included both high-quality wetlands and other low-quality wetlands that happened to form out of the dredging process. The 2,100-acre redevelopment preserves and enhances more than 850 acres of high-performing wetlands and other ecological assets as part of a public park along the Colorado River.
The team – which included landscape architects at Lionheart Places and ecologists at ACI Consulting – used the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ft. Worth District’s Texas Rapid Assessment Model (TRAM) to score the ecological service quality of the wetlands on the site and win approval of the project.
“We used the tool to conduct a land suitability analysis and planning process.This process informed the landscape architecture-led planning and design team as to which environmental systems were most desirable for protection and enhancement.”
“The model was used to identify high-quality wetlands that scored a 70 out of 100. We focused on how to raise their quality level to an 80 or 90. The redevelopment plan and park and open space network were curated around these ecological assets. There were also low-quality wetlands that scored a 1 out of 100, and some of those were filled in. What’s important to figure out is how a wetland performs, what is their worth. And if you need to fill in a wetland, mitigate or offset that elsewhere.”
While he doesn’t support the Supreme Court ruling, “now that it is the law of the land, how do we move forward?”
Spears wants to see a tool like the Army Corps’ TRAM as a national approach, with adjustments for important regional wetland and geomorphological differences. He noted that some Army Corps districts have wetland scoring tools and some don’t.
“Landscape architects can lean in and help establish the criteria for a new wetland scoring system. That will help us get away from ‘this is a wetland and that is not.’ We need to influence and help create a new wetland modeling process.”
Bowers thinks the ruling will open up lots of land and wetlands that were historically regulated to new development that will not be subject to federal approvals.
He thinks this is bad news for watersheds overall. “If you impact a river at its mouth, it won’t impact the system. But if you impact the wetlands – the headwaters – the water system can collapse. Wetlands are where you establish the ecological processes and then they migrate down the ecosystem.”
“I think all wetlands should be protected, as some wetlands that are low-quality today may not have been historically. As landscape architects, we should not impact any wetland if it’s in our power. With the climate and biodiversity crises, we need wetlands to sequester carbon and provide habitat. We need to do everything to minimize or mitigate impacts.”
For him, tools like TRAM can be useful in prioritizing which wetlands to save and restore. But he thinks the evaluation of any particular wetland’s quality should be rooted in a broader understanding of the watershed in which the wetland exists. He said the Supreme Court decision will increase the importance of watershed planning and the role of landscape architects in comprehensive planning for water resources.
The ruling also muddies the waters, so to speak, about how ephemeral waters will be considered in the future, potentially opening up future litigation.
According to CRS, “the majority opinion does not explicitly address ephemeral waters, which flow only in response to precipitation, or intermittent waters, which flow continuously during certain times of year, such as when snow pack melts. At a minimum, the majority’s interpretation would appear to exclude ephemeral waters.”
But a majority of Supreme Court justices also recognized that “‘temporary interruptions in surface connection’ – such as from low tides or dry spells” – happen in wetlands. “It is not clear how temporary such an interruption must be in order to preserve a wetland’s jurisdictional status.”
Hearing this, Spears seemed exasperated. In Texas, this lack of clarity on seasonal waters may impact how ephemeral streams and agricultural stock tanks are considered. “The Supreme Court seemed to create more problems than they solved.”
As regulations are rewritten, he sees opportunities for landscape architects to offer their deep expertise in designing with water and creating innovative approaches. He wants landscape architects to shape the next generation of water policy. “The reaction to Sackett vs EPA that is coming can help solve our water problems over the long-term.”
For Bowers, it’s important for landscape architects to be strong advocates for the preservation and restoration of wetlands through their projects and in their communities. “Try to insert policy standards and push for updates to zoning regulations.” And landscape architects can reach out to their Congressional representatives. “Legislators need to further clarify the definition of waters of the U.S.”
What else to know about waters of the U.S.
Since 1972, the Clean Water Act has protected the country’s aquatic environments from pollution. It was created by Congress to keep water bodies safe for wildlife and fishing and swimming. It has also protected communities’ drinking water supplies.
After the Act established federal jurisdiction over navigable waters, there have been a number of rulings by the Supreme Court. This is because the Clean Water Act never clearly defined what waters of the U.S. meant and instead authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to create that definition through regulations.
Legislators understood that it comprised “all the relevant parts of an aquatic ecosystem, including streams, wetlands, and small ponds—things that aren’t necessarily connected to the tributary system on the surface, but that still bear all kinds of ecological relationships to that system and to one another.”
And up until the 2000s, NRDC says, that inclusive definition of the waters of the U.S. was largely upheld through court cases.
The Supreme Court ruling in May came after multiple lawsuits filed in opposition to the Biden-Harris administration waters of the U.S. definition, which went into effect March 20, 2023. Those lawsuits halted implementation of the use of the definition in 27 states.
After the Sackett vs EPA decision, new guidance on the waters of the U.S. is being developed by the EPA and will be released in September.
The EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will also need to revise or amend a slew of regulations to be compliant with the Supreme Court decision.
To be specific, the ruling impacts many EPA regulations and programs that rely on a definition of waters of the U.S., including:
Water quality standards and total maximum daily loads
Oil spill prevention and preparedness programs
State and tribal certification under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act
Pollutant discharge permits
Dredged and fill material permits
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates in close collaboration with the EPA, will also need to update or revise its approach to military and civil engineering projects and permits that involve non-tidal and tidal wetlands.
Changes to these federal regulations and programs will also lead to cascading revisions of state regulations.
The Clean Water Act requires that state regulations adhere to its minimum requirements. It also allows states to go beyond the Clean Water Act and issue more stringent regulations. Some states have surpassed the federal level of water protection, while others have passed laws stating that only the bare federal minimum will be followed.
Each year, the Trust for Public Land (TPL) issues its ParkScore, which ranks the park systems of the 100 most populous cities in the U.S. This year, the organization also explored the positive health outcomes of top-scoring cities, looking at more than 800 innovative programs and practices that integrate park and healthcare systems.
Their findings are collected in a new report, The Power of Parks to Promote Health, which offers smart strategies for making parks a more formal part of community health programs. Their inclusive, equitable approaches can help ensure more communities experience the physical and mental health benefits of public green spaces.
TPL finds that in the 25 cities with the top ParkScore rankings, “people are on average 9 percent less likely to suffer from poor mental health, and 21 percent less likely to be physically inactive than those in lower- ranked cities. These patterns hold even after controlling for race/ethnicity, income, age, and population density.”
And in 26 cities, efforts are underway to deepen connections between parks and healthcare systems. In these cities, “a healthcare institution is funding, staffing, or referring patients to health programs in parks as part of efforts to improve patient and community health.”
TPL wants to see even more cities make these connections. “Park administrators and health professionals should think of parks as part of a holistic public health strategy,” said Dr. Howard Frumkin, senior vice president at Trust for Public Land (TPL), co-editor of Making Healthy Places, and one of the co-authors of the report.
Numerous studies by landscape architecture researchers and other scientists have demonstrated the health benefits of spending time in green spaces, even if it’s just 20 minutes. Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, ASLA, and William Sullivan, ASLA, and others have done much to quantify those benefits.
Studies have found that exposure to nature in cities can improve “hormone levels, heart rate, mood, the ability to concentrate, and other physiological and psychological measures,” TPL writes.
Specific benefits include: “lower blood pressure, improved birth outcomes, reduced cardiovascular risk, less anxiety and depression, better mental concentration, healthier child development, enhanced sleep quality, and more.”
Other research has demonstrated the long-term benefits of spending time in nature on “body weight, cardiovascular disease risk, and life expectancy.”
“If we had a medicine that delivered as many benefits as parks, we would all be taking it,” Frumkin said. “And they do those things without adverse side effects and at minimal cost.”
But park inequities, and therefore health inequities, are also real. TPL states that “neighborhoods where most residents identified as Black, Hispanic and Latinx, American Indian/Alaska Native, or Asian American and Pacific Islander had access to an average of 43 percent less park acreage than predominantly white neighborhoods. Similar park-space inequities existed in low-income neighborhoods across cities.”
“Over 100 million people across the country, including 28 million kids, don’t have a park within a 10-minute walk of their home. In California, 42 percent of low-income parents report that their children have never participated in outdoor activities.”
The report brings together a range of scientific findings that clearly show why all communities need nearby access to high-quality parks. With inclusive parks spread more equitably throughout cities, health programs can better reach historically underserved communities.
These findings can help landscape architects, planners, policymakers, developers, and community advocates make the case for more parks and the new public health programs that can amplify their benefits:
“Close-to-home parks are associated with lower obesity rates and improved health in both young people and adults.”
“Staffed programming, such as fitness classes, dramatically increased physical activity. Each additional supervised activity increased park use by 48 percent and moderate to vigorous physical activity time by 37 percent.”
A 2014 study in the journal Preventive Medicine, which relied on five years of data on individuals’ body mass index (BMI) and characteristics of nearby parks in New York City, found that “greater neighborhood park access and greater park cleanliness were associated with lower BMI among adults.”
A study in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, which examined children ages 6 to 12 in Valencia, Spain, found that “park and playground access was ‘significantly associated’ with increased physical activity, especially on weekdays, and contributed to lower BMIs overall.”
A 2022 study in the journal Health & Place explored the rates of depression and anxiety among older people during the pandemic. “It found that those with access to neighborhood parks were much less likely to report symptoms of depression or to screen positive for anxiety than those without.”
“A 2023 study conducted in Philadelphia and published in the journal PLOS ONE found that those who lived closest to green space reported better physical health and less stress than those who lived farther. Actually visiting green spaces during the pandemic was linked to better mental and physical health and less loneliness.”
In their report, TPL also outlined the climate benefits of parks and how they can reduce the dangerous health impacts of extreme heat. Assembling the “highest-resolution heat data” available in the U.S., they found a “stark difference in temperature between neighborhoods that have parks nearby and those that do not.”
Analyzing “thermal satellite imagery for 14,000 cities and towns,” TPL researchers found that areas within a “10-minute walk of a park can be as much as 6 degrees cooler than neighborhoods outside that range.”
The report offers examples from leading park and health coalitions in cities, outlining how public agencies, non-profit community organizations, and healthcare providers came together to leverage public park space to improve health outcomes.
“In New York City, for example, a program called Shape Up NYC offers free classes in everything from yoga to Zumba to Pilates in easy-to-access locations: libraries, public-housing complexes, recreation centers, and, of course, parks. In Columbus, Ohio, doctors at a local hospital prescribe 11-week fitness programs, provided for free by the city’s parks department, to patients struggling with obesity and high blood pressure,” TPL writes.
A set of 14 recommendations then outline how park and healthcare systems can better integrate. Many of their recommendations can inform the planning and design work of landscape architects.
One recommendation worth highlighting — “ensure that everybody lives within a 10-minute walk (about a half mile) of a park.” TPL states that proximity is important but so are “quality, activation, and safety.” And “creative place-making initiatives that incorporate local character through cultural elements, such as public art and bilingual signage,” are also key.
“Prioritize park investment in historically underserved communities
Develop transit connections and guided tours, like youth programs
Bring parks to the people through pop-ups and mobile offerings
Offer all-ability or ‘try before you buy’ fitness and wellness programs [in parks] explicitly designed for beginners.
Encourage park visitors to try something new with low-commitment offerings such as drop-in sports (e.g., adult recess) or free or low-cost gear rentals.
Make it easy for community groups to use parks and recreation facilities as their primary gathering venues.
Refer, prescribe, or host patients with health programming in parks and recreation facilities.
Sponsor the costs of wellness programs, sports leagues, and other health classes as part of any free fitness membership benefit.
Invest in capital improvements in parks as community health investments.
Work with parks and recreation agencies to map and identify park deficits as part of Community Health Needs Assessments.
Continue to partner with parks and recreation agencies to reach key patient populations with health services and education.
Partner with parks and recreation agencies to evaluate the impact of park initiatives on key patient and community health outcomes.”
Chris Hardy, ASLA, is senior associate at Sasaki and founder of Carbon Conscience. He is Co-chair of the ASLA Climate Action Committee Subcommittee on Carbon Drawdown and Biodiversity. He was a 2022-2023 Landscape Architecture Foundation Innovation and Leadership Fellow.
The purpose of Carbon Conscience is to make it easier to have an intuitive understanding of the climate impacts of design proposals. It’s designed for early-phase design work. It’s for landscape architects, architects, urban planners, and urban designers. It’s even for community advocates who may want to get a better grasp of the carbon potential of what’s being proposed.
For example, if there’s a multi-housing family development with multiple buildings and landscape, the designer of the project could sketch out architecture and landscape land uses and get a high-level understanding of the carbon impacts of building that project, focusing on the embodied carbon in construction.
Embodied carbon is what it takes to build the project; the carbon emitted to produce, ship to site, and install the construction materials. There’s also a way to tally biogenic stored carbon, which is the carbon locked up in things like wood materials, or sequestered carbon, which is the carbon drawn down out of the atmosphere by planting and restored ecosystems. We accounted for the probable carbon sequestered by living systems over a period of 60 years, to correlate with the typical lifecycle study period for buildings.
What we realized using Pathfinder, Tally, and other tools is you usually need detailed quantities of materials in a project before you can get a meaningful estimate of the global warming impacts of a given project. The problem with that is the biggest potential for change is in the earlier design phases, when maybe you’re fundamentally challenging or deciding what the framework of a project is.
What are some of the new features of Carbon Conscience v2 you’re excited about?
In version 2, we created an entirely new landscape baseline materials database. There are now over 140 different landscape materials with carbon factors that include mean values as well as low and high standard deviation. Carbon factors are how much carbon it takes to make a given material. For example, a carbon factor for concrete would be so many kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilogram of concrete. With version 2, we have a much more accurate and defensible tool.
We were also able to get user feedback from the version 1 beta testers. We realized we had two types of users. We have what I like to call the noodlers, who wanted to sketch something simple, test it, and see how things work. The second group were the deep dive users who wanted to gamify the tool. They wanted to use the tool more actively — to test, iterate, and get more sophisticated material options.
In Version 2, we’ve made things a lot easier for the noodlers. We’ve reconstructed the user experience to be more intuitive. We’re going to post new user tutorials. And we also made it more open to planners who might not be in technical drawing tools on a day-to-day basis. For the deep dive folks, we provided the ability to use a lot more materials and land use options, and the ability to edit assumptions for those land uses.
Carbon Conscience is a scale bigger than individual sites that might be put in the Pathfinder. And it’s a phase or two earlier.
In Pathfinder, you need to know how many square meters or square yards of different paving, furnishings, etc, and numbers of trees. You may not know that at a planning phase. You can use Carbon Conscience even before there’s a defined project to bid on, when you have a rough idea of what the project is or could be, and you want to evaluate options. Carbon Conscience is for planning and concept design phases only.
Once you go beyond those phases, it would be best, as a workflow, for landscape architects to transfer their project into Pathfinder. We’re working with Pamela to connect our APIs, so projects can graduate from Carbon Conscience into Pathfinder. And Pathfinder is going to refer to our dataset as they move forward with their updated version this coming year. We’re very closely linked with Pathfinder and collaborating with the Climate Positive Design team.
Carbon Conscience also has an architectural dataset sourced from the Carbon Leadership Forum. It’s at a whole building lifecycle analysis approach, averaged out by floor-level of resolution. And we’re going to be moving forward with collaborating with the Epic tool by EHDD in Version 3, which will be coming this fall.
You’ve used the Carbon Conscience platform to make smart planning and design decisions for the 600-acre Ellinikon Metropolitan Park in Athens, Greece, which will transform an abandoned airport into what will be the largest coastal park in Europe. You have stated the top three carbon reduction strategies of the project were: 1) swapping out imported soils for amended soils; 2) reducing the need for new concrete by using other materials; 3) reusing concrete found on site. How did you use the platform to figure this out?
When we started the Ellinikon, we had a high-level master plan for the park and public space authored by Foster Partners and their team. In the beginning of our engagement, we were asked to create a concept plan. We started by mapping out the Foster plan in Carbon Conscience, using that as a benchmark. We quickly realized that it was going to be very difficult, if not impossible, for us to be climate neutral before our restored ecosystems would hit their carbon carrying capacity.
I wanted to define that term, because I think it’s something that we all need to be aware of as landscape architects. The carbon carrying capacity for an ecosystem is how much carbon an ecosystem can reasonably store and sequester by the time it hits maturity. In most ecosystems, as they age and become fully mature, they store less and less carbon. They become relatively static carbon stores. But that’s not true of all ecosystems. Wetlands are different, and I can talk about that for a whole hour. But for Ellinikon, this was critical, as Mediterranean ecosystems generally store and sequester much less carbon than temperate or tropical humid forests.
What we realized in our early sketches of Ellinikon is that we needed to change business as usual. We started looking at different strategies in Carbon Conscience, which gave us a way to include the client in the discussion. We even had the client come into the tool themselves, so they could play with the assumptions and start tweaking them with us in workshops. They became personally invested in the development of the project carbon goals, and that gave our team the social capital to challenge business as usual assumptions in site design as we moved forward into technical documentation phases.
As we used the tool, we decided to hugely reduce the amount of paving and increase the area dedicated to restoration style planting, as opposed to gardenesque planting or lawns. Now in the final design, the only lawns in the project have to work for a living. They’re for active uses, sports events. Ornamental horticulture is almost entirely defined by aromatic gardens that are passively maintained in that climate. And about 70 percent of the site is now restoration-style ecology.
We also used it to challenge our material assumptions. If we were swapping out our concrete hardscapes for resin-bonded aggregate hardscape or a salvaged concrete hardscape, that gave us huge savings.
In the design guidelines released with Carbon Conscience, you outlined seven principles designers can follow to reduce the climate impacts of their projects. One is to prioritize reuse. How can landscape architects reuse materials they find on existing sites they may be redesigning? And what do you think is needed to make reuse more cost effective at smaller scales?
Cost efficiency is totally dependent on the quality and scale of the material. In some cases, it can be a lot cheaper if you’re just resurfacing asphalt pavement and not resetting it. If you’re just re-setting existing cobbles in a particular streetscape, that’s extremely cost effective. It gets trickier when you’re doing substantial amounts of work to the material itself. For example, if you want salvaged concrete — let’s say crushed salvaged concrete for riprap in a very small site — that might not be cost feasible.
If you have a site an acre or more, specialized equipment like concrete crushers can be viable. But in the United States, we’re already diverting over 50 percent of our construction waste to some kind of salvaged facility, and that includes lot of concrete work. There’s already some efficiency where you can salvage aggregates coming from demolition debris in most major metropolitan areas.
A big part of reuse is also thinking about the end-of-life of our designs and materials. It’s a lot easier to crush, salvage, and reuse, or up-cycle or down-cycle concrete if it doesn’t have steel reinforcing in it. Without steel reinforcement, you can start cutting it like stone. If we think about our concrete pavement profiles, maybe we make them a little thicker to avoid having steel in them, so that in the next generation of that concrete pavement, it’ll be a lot easier to salvage it for reuse.
In the guidelines you also call for using natural and locally-sourced materials wherever possible. What are the climate benefits of these approaches? And are there projects that have done this that inspire you?
When we can avoid emissions associated with the making of the material itself — like the emissions that go into making clinker for cement, smelting for metals, or complex hydro-chemical processes to make plastics — that dramatically reduces the carbon factors of the material itself.
When we specify natural materials, the material is there; it just needs to be cut, shaped, and moved. And those emissions can be a lot less. I’m talking about things like stone, aggregate, wood, bamboo, and rammed earth, which are naturally occurring and just need be manipulated to become construction products.
When we talk about locally-sourced materials, we’re avoiding the transportation carbon cost that regional or more distant materials can have. Unfortunately, in the United States almost all of our transportation for construction materials is generally truck, which can have the highest carbon factor of almost any typical transportation options. Local sourcing becomes a huge factor for landscapes in particular, because most of our materials are massive and come at a high carbon transportation cost.
Right now, I’m focused on our Ellinikon project in Greece where we are trying to locally source most of the materials on site. We have the benefit of having stone quarries less than 20 miles from the site. And we have the benefit of mining material on the site. There’s a wonderful opportunity when you think about sourcing local stone in particular, because usually you’re tapping into a vernacular, a material tradition. There are regional craftsmanship traditions people take pride in.
You also emphasize the value of nature-based solutions and promoting ecological preservation and restoration. How do healthy ecosystems and nature-based solutions create positive climate outcomes? Do biodiverse, ecologically-rich landscapes store more carbon?
Only in living systems do we have economically viable ways to draw carbon out of the atmosphere. Geoengineering solutions are speculative businesses. Trees and plants are very efficient at what they do. And it’s very hard for technology to replicate those processes in an economically viable way.
One of the great benefits of nature-based solutions is the co-benefits. Rain gardens not only contribute to stormwater management but reduce the fundamental need for grey infrastructure. They’re replacing the concrete pipes and catch basins. And in the right context, they’re a high-carbon sequestrating landscape. And when you start layering in biodiversity benefits, it becomes an even richer proposal.
Biodiversity is more of a correlation with carbon sequestration than a causation. For example, a Spartina salt marsh is not the most biodiverse planting design but it is super carbon sequestering. However, when you compare two different landscapes, the more structurally complex an ecosystem is — the more trophic levels, the more physical levels of living organisms, such an overstory, an understory, and rich mycorrhizal horizon in the soils — the more carbon it is going to store. And it will usually be more biodiverse than a structurally simplistic ecosystem. What we want is structural diversity and complexity; we want resilient, complex, adapted ecosystems.
Most kinds of forest have a carbon carrying capacity, but many wetlands and some prairie do not. Wetlands offer a linear rather than sigmoidal sequestration of carbon. Over the long-term, wetlands can be incredibly high performance from a carbon perspective. Maybe the solution isn’t always planting trees to offset a project. Maybe it is protecting or investing in the restoration of a wetland or a prairie.
Sanders highlighted the results of a five-year assessment of the LAF fellowship program and its efforts to grow the next generation of diverse landscape architecture leaders. The assessment shows that past fellows are shaping the future of the built environment in key public, non-profit, and private sector roles.
And she introduced the latest class of six fellows, who focused on climate, equity, technology, and storytelling:
“Artificial intelligence (AI) will bolster, break, and transform the process of landscape architecture,” said Phillip Fernberg, a designer and PhD student at Utah State University. Many kinds of artificial intelligence have been developed over past decades. But what has recently caught our collective attention is ChatGPT, an “artificial general intelligence.” He said ChatGPT “isn’t as magical as you may think” — it’s machine learning from patterns of data. But it shows the range of transformative and disruptive technologies to come.
AI will bolster landscape architects’ work by making it far easier to find images of different species of trees and plants. It will also help landscape architects and community groups better analyze landscapes, particularly at the large scale, and advance efforts on climate change, biodiversity, and equity.
But it will also break landscape architects’ conception of their role and value as designers. AI tools have already demonstrated they can create renderings that look nearly human made. This raises questions for landscape architects, like: “What is it that I really do?”
Fernberg thinks renderings won’t become fully AI-driven, but designers’ jobs will be rethought to better integrate with AI. He said a host of privacy, ethical, and intellectual property issues will also need to be addressed.
Ultimately, AI will transform how landscape architects work, changing the data, models, and processes used by designers. He called for landscape architects and ASLA to catch up to where architects and planners are. These professions have formed networks and working groups and developed research to explore the implications of AI. “Landscape architects need to imbue their value system in these tools.”
For Daniel Winterbottom, FASLA, professor of landscape architecture at the University of Washington, access to gardens and nature in prisons helps inmates heal from abuse, trauma, and addiction and prepare for a healthier life after their incarceration.
Worldwide, there are currently 10.3 million people imprisoned. Approximately 25 percent of those people — 2.2 million — are incarcerated in the U.S. In America, prison is “oppressively bleak” and “designed to be demoralizing.” Prison practices are also rooted in a history of racism and social injustices. These environments are typically “austere and efficient.” Most often, there is very little access to nature.
In contrast, many European countries have “open prisons” that provide inmates access to wild nature. Inmates have responsibilities tending gardens and earn trust that prepares them to be responsible citizens post-incarceration.
Through a series of powerful recorded interviews, Winterbottom found that inmates involved in garden programs experienced a range of benefits. They experienced reduced stress and conflict. They harmed themselves and others less and cared for themselves and others more. “Working on the garden helped them work on themselves. Outer gardening led to inner gardening — weeding and pruning their defects and shortcomings,” one interviewee said. Correctional officers, which also suffer from high rates of PTSD and suicide, saw benefits.
Winterbottom sees the need for a national policy to enable restorative prison gardens, but acknowledged it will require long-term advocacy to achieve. He pointed to “pockets of change” in California, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington. He urged landscape architects to partner with prisons to develop gardens, volunteer or teach in prisons, mentor formerly incarcerated people, and advocate for reform.
“Landscape architects deal with massive social and environmental problems but we are nearly absent in popular culture. We need new vehicles to bring people in,” said Joseph James, ASLA, founder of Eponymous Practice. One promising vehicle is graphic novels, which are “the fastest growing section of the library.” These visual books are increasingly popular because they are “really approachable and accessible for struggling readers.”
Building on his love of comics, James spent his fellowship drawing and writing his own graphic novel focused on the power of place. He said places become meaningful for people when they are tied to memories and emotions. And he wanted to convey how landscape architects purposefully design places for people to connect to.
His graphic novel features teenagers who had transformed a park into a magical world, a place of adventure, with ruins and a wizard. They learn their beloved landscape is being threatened by a renovation, but then with the help of a neighborhood landscape architect become involved in the redesign process. They learn how landscape architects plan and design communities.
James is also developing a companion teacher’s guide for the graphic novel, with recommendations on how to use the book to teach earth and life sciences and design thinking. He argues that “place-based storytelling” is one of the best ways to reach young people and introduce them to landscape architecture.
And he called on landscape architects to develop strong relationships with K-12 schools and use hands-on drawing exercises in classes. His graphic novel is rooted in his work with teachers and students in Boston at the Boston Green Academy and explorations of Franklin Park.
The grant awardees will produce research that outlines evidence of the benefits of landscape architecture solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. The research will be published on ASLA.org and openly accessible in spring 2024.
Dr. Daniella Hirschfeld, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, Utah State University
Dr. Hirshfeld will explore landscape architecture- and nature-based solutions that are effective at reducing temperatures. Dr. Hirshfeld will identify design strategies that have demonstrated temperature reduction benefits while also sequestering carbon, protecting and increasing biodiversity, and reducing climate risks.
Dr. Sohyun Park, ASLA, PhD, SITES AP, Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Connecticut
Dr. Park will explore landscape architecture- and nature-based solutions that address the biodiversity crisis. Dr. Park will identify design strategies that offer proven biodiversity and ecological gains while also sequestering carbon, improving water quality and management, and reducing climate risks.
“While we were developing our Climate Action Plan, landscape architects told us what they needed most was authoritative evidence that demonstrates all the great benefits of their work. We are thrilled to work with Sohyun and Daniella on moving this critically important research forward,” said ASLA CEO Torey Carter-Conneen.
“This research will help all of us in the landscape architecture community make the strongest case possible with policymakers, community groups, allied professionals, and the public,” said ASLA President Emily O’Mahoney, FASLA. “We’ll have the best science and performance data on hand.”
The goals of the research reviews are to:
Understand and summarize the current state of knowledge.
Synthesize the research literature and provide insights, leveraging key data- and science-based evidence.
Create an accessible executive summary for policymakers, community advocates, and practicing landscape architects.
About the Grant Awardees
Dr. Daniella Hirschfeld
“Well-designed places, such as parks with large shade trees, can alleviate the experience of extreme heat caused by the climate crisis. To make these designs a reality, we need to understand their effectiveness and the multiple benefits they can provide,” Dr. Hirshfeld said.
Dr. Daniella Hirschfeld, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at Utah State University. Daniella received her PhD in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning from University of California, Berkeley. Her PhD was funded by the McQuown Fellowship at UC Berkeley and the State of California’s Ocean Protection Council. She received her master’s degree in environmental management from Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment and her bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy at Dartmouth College. Daniella also has professional experience in coastal zone management, sustainability planning, and urban planning.
Daniella is currently working with teams of collaborators on projects related to urban heat islands. She is working on an urban heat island mapping campaign funded through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – Urban Heat Island Mapping Program, focused on understanding the inequities in the distribution of urban heat experiences in Salt Lake City. She is collaborating with climate scientists at Utah State University; non-profits; departments in Salt Lake City’s government; and science groups, including the Utah Climate Center, the Tracy Aviary, and the Natural History Museum of Utah.
Daniella is also working on “the injustice in the void spaces,” which surfaces the hidden inequities of poorly distributed climate science services. Her team has investigated the information and resources needed to design cities resilient to urban heat. She is collaborating with a team at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) – Applied Science Program and the Aspen Global Change Institute (AGCI) on this research.
Dr. Sohyun Park
“As stewards of the land, we have the ability and privilege to restore and revitalize spaces that benefit both humans and non-human species. The biodiversity crisis is often not readily perceptible in our daily lives, so I hope the results of this research will provoke deep contemplation about the alarming state of biodiversity loss, foster a sense of global interconnectedness, and inspire greater action,” said Dr. Park.
Dr. Sohyun Park, ASLA, PhD, is Assistant Professor in the Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture at the University of Connecticut. She earned her Ph.D. degree in Environmental Design and Planning from Arizona State University, a Master’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from Seoul National University, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology from Sookmyung Women’s University. She is a SITES Accredited Professional.
Sohyun’s research focuses on the intricate interplay between natural and human systems, with a particular focus on sustainability, resilience, and the health of ecosystems and communities. Her research aims to advance our understanding of how urban morphology, functions, and changes influence ecosystem services, as well as their interactions with human well-being. Her research centers around urban biodiversity, seeking solutions to address the biodiversity crisis.
Sohyun has secured grants from the U.S. National Park Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Her work has been featured in the journals Nature Scientific Report, Landscape and Urban Planning, and Applied Geography. She has delivered plenary presentations at major international conferences, including the 2022 International Federation of Landscape Architects (IFLA) World Congress, the 2022 International Symposium of Landscape Architecture, and the 2022 International Garden Symposium.
Sohyun holds several leadership roles, including Co-Chair of the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture NE1962 National Multi-State Research Group; Chair of the ASLA Ecology and Restoration Professional Practice Network; and Vice President of the Global Landscape Architecture Network. She was Chair of the Council of Educators in Landscape Architecture (CELA) conference tracks (2016-2022).
About the Grant Process
The national competitive grant for biodiversity loss received seven research proposals from academics at U.S. universities. The national competitive grant for extreme heat received nine proposals.
ASLA wishes to thank the selection and review panels for their contributions selecting the grant awardees and peer-reviewing the research: