Landscape Performance Research: The Economics of Change

From Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) By Jason Twill, LEED AP and Stuart Cowan, PhD

The built environment and building industry together account for about 50% of U.S carbon emissions and contribute to a web of significant, interconnected problems: climate change, persistent toxins in the environment, dwindling supplies of potable water, flooding, ocean acidification, habitat loss and more. Over the past decade, great strides have been made in terms of energy efficiency, water and waste consumption, and sustainable materials, and a critical mass of innovative professionals has emerged.

Yet a major barrier to the broad adoption of advanced green building practices is our 20th century real estate financial system. Current lending approaches, appraisal protocols, and valuation models do not reflect the true externalized costs of doing “business as usual” nor do they fully capture the additional environmental and social benefits created by building green. These barriers affect the perceived financial viability of environmentally sound projects and slow innovation and market growth. To fully realize true sustainability, a shift in assessing and evaluating real estate investment is urgently needed.

The Economics of Change is a groundbreaking effort to do just that.

The overarching goal of The Economics of Change is to shift mainstream real estate practices to document the full value of a built environment that is compatible with healthy, natural systems. Correcting real estate incentives and improving financial models will shift investment toward buildings and infrastructures that are financially rewarding, resilient, socially just and economically restorative.

eoc-shiftA project’s integrated value includes its traditional market value AND the environmental and social value it provides. This research seeks to shift the investment barrier to the right through recognition of integrated value, potentially unlocking a trillion dollars of investment towards restorative building.

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Biomimicry guiding design principle for Lavasa Township

From Land Reader BY DAMIAN HOLMES

HOK worked closely with biologists from Biomimicry 3.8, in undertaking an extensive study of the local ecosystem to develop design strategies that work in harmony with local biome as well as climatology. Lavasa is a private, planned city being built near Pune and expected to have a total population of 200,000. HOK has developed an overall masterplan for the town and including a landscape master plan to minimize deforestation.

Although the above is a short summary of World Architecture News blog post, it doesn’t include how biomimicry was used in the design process. Biomimicry has recently increased in prominence in the design profession including architecture, urban design and landscape architecture. So I thought it best to give a definition and a video that povides more of an idea of what biomimicry is.

Stephen Muecke on Bruno Latour’s Modes of Existence

I have enjoyed what pieces of the book are available in English so far – here is a review

I am what I am attached to’: On Bruno Latour’s ‘Inquiry into the Modes of Existence’

RIGHT NOW IN PARIS, Bruno Latour is being fêted. “One of the great intellectual adventures of our epoch […] the Hegel of our times,” enthuses Patrice Maniglier in Le Monde, who finds him a much more entertaining read than the dour German.

Curious, the way the French worry about their intellectual standing, for which they use the English word, taking their philosophers to be the barometers of the national reputation. “Is France still thinking?” worries Le Magazine Littéraire, as it too comes up with Latour as a rare savior. His new book, Enquête sur les modes d’existence (An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence), sold out of the first print run of 4,000 in 10 days. But it is not just a book; it is also a project in interactive metaphysics. In other words, a book, plus website. (Unheard of! A French philosopher using the Internet!) Intrigued readers of Latour’s text can go online and find themselves drawn into a collaborative project (so far only in French, but the English web pages will be up soon, and Catherine Porter’s translation of the book will be out from Harvard University Press in the spring). Simply register on the site, and you are free to offer commentary, counter-examples, snippets of movies, images, whatever. You may possibly graduate to the status of co-researcher, and even be invited to a workshop in Paris down the line, to thrash out the thornier problems.

Collective collaboration — some would call it “crowdsourcing” — is rare in philosophy, but Latour, a sociologist and anthropologist by training, is used to collaboration with scientists. (He was one of the founders of the new field of science studies and a veteran of the “science wars” of the 1990s.) And An Inquiry into the Modes of Existence is not really philosophy as understood by the dustier denizens of the Sorbonne, where nearly everyone and his other is a phenomenologist. Latour’s subtitle is An Anthropology of the Moderns, and it continues the project he began with 1993’s We Have Never Been Modern, an anthropological account of western European culture, with serious metaphysical implications, that attempts to answer the question: who do we think we are? “We” — however vague that occidentalist umbrella term may be — are the ones whose style of modernization was destined to take over the rest of the world. But the project has hit a dead end: the planet itself is protesting, and we are going to have to think again about our technological, economic, philosophical “universals.” We will have to choose between modernizing and ecologizing, says Latour, a theme he has been sounding at least since 2004’s The Politics of Nature.

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Green Infrastructure

The Landscape Institute has an informative page and information on Green Infrastructure and its value in urban design, which not only informs related design professions, potential developers and the public at large but includes a useful suite of visual documentation for download.

Green Infrastructure (GI) is an approach to land use that emphasises multifunctional and connected green spaces and ecosystem services.
This two-minute video introduces GI and the local benefits it can bring.


 

local green infrastructureLocal Green Infrastructure:
helping communities make the most of their landscape (2011)

Building on our 2009 statement on Green infrastructure, this guidance is aimed at inspiring local decision-makers and communities to make the most of their land, while helping wildlife to flourish, reducing flood risk, providing green open space for all, and delivering a wide range of economic, health and community benefits.

Download booklet (pdf)
Request print copies

Case studies

The booklet features eight case studies from across the UK where GI has been woven into the fabric of local communities, bringing a wide range of benefits:Eastern Curve, Dalston, London | Leeds City Region GI Strategy
Manor Fields Park, Sheffield| | Phoenix Park Gateway Gallery, Cheshire
Dalzell Estate, North Lanarkshire | Betjeman Millenium Park, OxfordshireGreening for Growth in Victoria, London | Bury Mount, Northamptonshire

To see more GI projects, go to the full list of all GI schemes in the case studies library

Animation

Click on the illustration for an animated example showing key GI elements 

GI illustration


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Design for Resilience – The Case of Flood Mitigation (via Praxis in Landscape Architecture)

More and more we hear about resilience in the face of the unknown rather than “big scale planning”

Design for Resilience - The Case of Flood Mitigation What do you do when historical data is no longer useful for predicting the future? Climate change is making the already-difficult proposition of predicting environmental phenomena even harder. Consider societal efforts to manage the flood system. The concept of a 100-year flood is based on the idea that history is useful indicator of future states and "most likely" scenarios. A 2010 paper by Gersonius et al.* tackles the question of how we might … Read More

via Praxis in Landscape Architecture