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LASN July 2010 Letters & Commentary

Among of the 150 pilot projects selected by the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) program projects is Rios Clementi Hale Studios’ renovation of the landscape for the Pete V. Domenici United States Courthouse in Albuquerque. The firm is in the conceptual design phase of the project, commissioned by the U.S. General Services Administration. Renovation will restore native habit, conserve water and reintroduce a park-like environment to the 4.5-acre downtown site. Sustainable elements will include a xeriscape to replace Kentucky bluegrass lawns and nonnative plants, removing and reusing excessive hardscape, installing a rainwater collection and reuse system and employing photovoltaics to supply the site’s energy needs.
Rendering: Rios Clementi Hale Studios
Rain Bird
Playworld Came America

Re Buck Abbey’s June LASN Ordinances Column: “Sustainable Landscape Architect”

I have long been a proponent of increasing awareness of the importance of “sustainable design” and enjoy seeing how my contemporaries address this issue. Just today, I had to convince a perspective client of the importance of letting us design the community’s grading concept, utilizing sheet flow to landscaped areas, before the civil engineer builds in all kinds of drainage structures that are not necessary. I think we landscape architects need to convince the architects and civil engineers that working together we can produce a much more cohesive project that is also more water energy efficient. Simultaneously, we need to educate the municipalities to encourage and demand more synergistic design efforts.

The entire roadway/ streetscaping scenario needs to be re-thought! Move the utility easements away from paving to allow landscaping to overhang the road. Use natural sheet flow into these approximate landscaped areas rather then catch basins everywhere emptying into and contaminating our lakes! Rethink site lighting to employ the advances in LEDs. The list goes on, but it is always encouraging to see people like you making the effort to help educate the municipalities. I wish landscape architecture as an industry would develop a sustainable set of guidelines incorporating all of its member’s years of experience. We should be disseminating the information of how to develop and build conscientiously!

Bruce Howard, RLA
President/ Chief Designer
Bruce Howard & Associates
Miami, Fla.

Editor’s note:

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) rating system is just such a set of guidelines for landscape architects.

SITES is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. The initiative was first announced at an Oct. 6, 2007 press conference at the San Francisco’s Moscone Center during the ASLA annual meeting LASN was on hand to hear the preliminary details.

SITES is in response to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system. LEED measures a building’s environmental impact, but clearly lacked comprehensive criteria for sustainable landscapes and site components. SITES is a program to measure the sustainability of designed landscapes of all types, including public, commercial and residential projects. At that time, ASLA predicted such sustainable landscapes could can save billions of dollars and reduce maintenance. The initiative actually began in 2005 with the gathering of a group of about 30 experts in a broad range of fields to identify best practices. The plan was to develop three reports between 2007 and 2009 and allow time for feedback from landscape architects and other involved groups. At the 2007 press conference, LASN asked the moderator of the gathering, ASLA CEO Nancy Somerville, how long it would take to develop these guidelines. She projected a date of 2012. This date has proven fairly accurate.

SITES is now in its pilot project stage. The SITES program has selected 150 pilot projects from 34 states (plus Canada, Iceland and Spain) to help assess the rating system for sustainable landscapes, with and without buildings. The feedback from these pilot projects will be used to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. (Please see news item on p. 160, which discusses one of the chosen pilot projects.)

Re “Stephanie Landregan, New Director of UCLA Extension’s Landscape Architecture Program”

Thank you! I’ve been wondering for years why UCLA waste enormous amounts of water in landscaping. Thank you Stephanie for giving us a delightful corner, which I hope will be the standard from now on. Maybe the UCLA La Kretz Center for California Conservation Science of the L.A. ecosystem could help you push forward more use of California native plants and drought-resistant landscape. Count on my absolute support.

Della De Sasia
Tech Supervisor, UCLA Health System
Sherman Oaks, Calif.

Re “Powell Park Development, Powell, Ohio” (Edsall & Associates LLC)

I would just like to say that I have been to over 100 skate parks in the U.S. Powell is still one of my favorites. Thank you! Hopefully the kids in the surrounding area know they are lucky to have it.

Jeff Rigsby
Charleston, West Virginia

Re Witches’ Broom Threatens ‘East Palatka’ Cultivars in Central Florida

Your article specifies areas from Orlando to Tampa. I have two Palatka hollies infected and have seen others in the area.

Dave Didgen
Melbourne, Fla.

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