The sustainable design concepts and techniques discussed in this chapter are integral to a growing body of knowledge and awareness about the need to “design green.” More and more people and design firms are becoming aware of the benefits of adopt­ing these principles, and more clients are demanding them. Likewise, an increasing number of government agencies are providing information and establishing performance

standards for sustainable design. Several sources recommended for additional infor­mation and support regarding sustainable design include the following:

LEED: The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a

green building rating system managed by the U. S. Green Building Council for the design, construction, and operation of green buildings. In addition to hav­ing a rating system for determining how well buildings meet a number of per­formance standards, LEED also offers a certification program that verifies a building’s green design. Overall, LEED provides a credible means for identify­ing and acknowledging buildings that are sustainable. Although most of the emphasis of LEED is on building design, some design criteria apply to the land­scape as well. More standards for site deign are expected in the future. LEED is also a good source for case-study projects that are deemed “green” and informa­tion about how to design in a sustainable manner (http://www. usgbc. org/).

Sustainable Sites Initiative: The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdiscipli­

nary partnership coordinated by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden to promote green design by es­tablishing voluntary national guidelines and benchmarks for sustainable land­scape design construction, and maintenance. Modeled after and in coordination with LEED, The Sustainable Sites Initiative seeks to provide landscape architects and designers with a set of tools that can guide and evaluate landscapes for their effectiveness in creating a sustainable environment. The Sustainable Sites Initiative also provides educational material on various aspects of sustainable landscape design and a number of case studies including residential sites (http:// www. sustainablesites. org).

GreenScapes: This is a program of the U. S. Environmental Protection

Agency (EPA) that promotes environmentally beneficial landscape design and maintenance by providing numerous guidelines and sources of informa­tion. The program is organized into two general categories: one for large-scale or more public landscapes and one for homeowners. Further, there is a GreenScapes Alliance Program that seeks companies and organizations to com­mit to conducting their business in an environmentally responsible manner. The GreenScapes Web site and printed brochures offer many suggestions for sustainable design as well as examples of projects that utilize sustainable tech­niques (http://www. epa. gov/epawaste/conserve/rrr/greenscapes/index. htm). WaterSense: This is a voluntary public-private partnership program that is

also managed by the EPA in an effort to protect the future of the nation’s water supply. WaterSense does this by promoting water-efficient products and serv­ices, including guidelines for wise use of water in the landscape (http://www. epa. gov/watersense).


Creating a sustainable landscape is desirable because of the environmental consequences as well as the potential economic and functional benefits that are outlined throughout this chapter. It is the responsibility of the landscape designer to be a good steward of the land and to do everything possible to design intelligently based on concepts that are one with the environment and not at odds with it. Good residential site design is sustain­able. To be a responsible steward, you should now know the following:

• Definition of sustainable design

• Six primary principles of sustainable landscape design

• Different strategies for making a residential land­scape fit its regional context, including those that address climate and materials

• Techniques for minimally impacting a residential site, including ways to preserve vegetation, minimize grading, protect surface runoff, and maintain wildlife habitats

• Methods for restoring a degraded site that address soil rehabilitation, toxic material removal, and un­suitable vegetation removal

• Ways to design a residential site in coordination with natural events and cycles, including an understanding of sun and shadow patterns, methods for minimizing sun exposure in the hot season, ways to maximize sun exposure in the cold season, an understanding of wind patterns, techniques for minimizing wind exposure during the cold season, procedures for maximizing wind exposure in the hot season, tactics for conserving water, considerations for proper plant selection, meth­ods for reducing runoff, and strategies for protecting a site from wildfires

• Different means to recycle and reuse on a residential site, such as ways to salvage materials on-site and in the region, use remanufactured materials, and estab­lish a compost area

• Strategies for ensuring a healthy environment on a residential site, including the use of toxin-free mate­rials and healthy maintenance practices

Updated: October 4, 2015 — 12:10 pm