Set performance objectives and evaluate your work. Aim for zero carbon, zero waste, and equity on all your projects. Stretch further to regenerate. Use data to innovate and promote the value of a landscape approach.
Landscapes can contribute to resilience, equity, and community health and offer environmental, social, and economic benefits and they do so best when these objectives are included in the design process along with planning for how to measure and evaluate outcomes. Further, data equips landscape architects with the tools to be better advocates for design in conversations about development, practice, and policy. From climate to community, identifying goals and recording actual performance builds knowledge within landscape architecture to establish models and encourage innovation and shows the value of a landscape perspective.
Here are some tools to help you set specific, measurable goals:
FAMILIARIZE YOURSELF WITH METRICS AND METHODS
LAF's guidebook for landscape performance outlines the process to evaluate landscape performance and informs readers on determining what to measure and how. Thinking through how a project will be evaluated during the design process can produce more efficient and effective solutions and lead to innovation while recording these findings adds to the collective knowledge of landscape architecture and benefits future designs.
DESIGN FOR SUSTAINABILITY CERTIFICATION
SITES offers the most comprehensive system for creating sustainable and resilient landscape projects. Formulated to protect and enhance the benefits that healthy landscapes provide, the SITES rating system distinguishes sustainable landscapes through performance rather than prescriptive practices. The framework also measures project performance and elevates the value of SITES certified landscapes. SITES can also be used in tandem with LEED for projects that include buildings.
ENGAGE IN CLIMATE POSITIVE DESIGN
Landscapes are the only part of the built environment with the capacity to sequester more carbon than they emit. The Pathfinder created by 2018-2019 LAF Fellow Pamela Conrad offers landscape architects a tool to evaluate the carbon footprint of the projects, the length of time it will take until a project starts storing more carbon than is released through building and maintenance, and the impact that different design decisions can have on achieving a climate positive design.
DESIGN FOR A WORLD SUSTAINED BY ONE PLANET
Today, society at large is living as if there is more than one planet. Bioregional's One Planet Living framework calls on people to live within the limits of Earth through ten simple principles. The framework's comprehensive approach to sustainability includes not only environmental sustainability but social and economic sustainability as well. One Planet Living's collaborative approach highlights that sustainability requires a variety of considerations and that it can't happen without landscape. Applying the framework to design can contribute to a more sustainable, equitable, and healthier world for all.