Next Generation of Landscape Architecture Leaders Focus on Climate, Equity, and Technology
“Our fellows have shown courage, written books, founded mission-driven non-profits, created new coalitions, and disseminated new tools,” said Cindy Sanders, FASLA, CEO of OLIN, in her introduction of the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) Fellowship for Innovation and Leadership program at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C.
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:
New Green Spaces Don’t Have to Lead to Gentrification
Chris Hardy, ASLA, senior associate at Sasaki, used his fellowship to significantly advance the Carbon Conscience tool he has been developing over the past few years. The web-based tool is meant to help landscape architects, planners, urban designers, and architects make better land-use decisions in early design phases when the opportunity to reduce climate impacts is greatest.
Carbon Conscience is also designed to work in tandem with the Pathfinder tool, created by LAF Fellow Pamela Conrad, ASLA, as part of Climate Positive Design. Once the parameters of a site have been established, Pathfinder enables landscape architects to improve their designs and materials choices to reach a climate positive state faster.
Hardy examined more than 300 studies to develop robust evidence to support a fully revamped version of Carbon Conscience, which will launch in July 2023. He found that “landscape architecture projects can be just as carbon intensive as architecture projects per square foot.” He wondered whether the only climate responsible approach is to stop building new projects altogether. “Are new projects worth the climate cost?”
After months of research, he believes decarbonizing landscape architecture projects will be “very hard,” but not impossible. He called for a shift away from the carbon-intensive designs of the past. To reduce emissions, landscape architects need to take a “less is more” approach; use local and natural materials; and increase space in their projects for ecological restoration, which can boost carbon sequestration. He cited Sasaki’s 600-acre mega-project in Athens Greece — the Ellinikon Metropolitan Park — as a model for how to apply Carbon Conscience, make smart design decisions, and significantly improve carbon performance upfront. “There are exciting design opportunities — this is not just carbon accounting.”
Landscape architect Erin Kelly, ASLA, based in Detroit, Michigan, sees enormous potential in using vacant land in cities for carbon sequestration. Her goal is to connect vacant lands with the growing global offset marketplace, which offered 155 million offsets in 2022 that earned $543 million. And