Designing Sustainable Landscapes

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) is the national association representing landscape architects, professionals who specialize in the analysis, planning, design, management, and stewardship of the natural and built environments. Along with career resources, the Tools for Teachers section of ASLA’s webpage offers stories about landscape architects, examples of great landscape architecture, and even a coloring book for children.

As part of their education outreach, ASLA also has created videos about landscape architecture and architects, which also can be found on their Vimeo page. There are over 60 videos in the collection.

This video collection is quite strong and many of the videos have themes that align with environmental science learning goals, making them useful tools for exploring these concepts with students in the context of human-created landscapes. Some of our favorites are highlighted below.

Urban Forests = Cooler, Cleaner Air explains how to use urban forests to fight air pollution and the urban heat island effect. This video can help students answer questions such as: How do trees benefit urban areas? What are urban heat islands? What are some of their negative effects? What kind of protection do urban trees need?

Leveraging the Landscape to Manage Water includes an animation that explains how green infrastructure systems effectively manage stormwater. It provides students with the opportunity to see how green roofs, bioretention systems, and permeable pavements actually work. By learning how these techniques can be used to improve drainage, students will develop a better understanding of water management.

Infrastructure for All describes how underused spaces such as highway underpasses or old train depots can be transformed for new purposes that provide healthy outdoor spaces in communities that can connect communities and promote economic growth. It can inspire students to think about how such spaces can be transformed in their own communities.

Energy Efficient Home Landscapes explains how to use the landscape to reduce the energy consumed by a typical suburban home by utilizing such strategies as smart tree placement and green roofs and walls to dramatically improve energy efficiency.

Revitalizing Communities with Parks explains how to revitalize an underserved urban community with a new park that also can provide valuable ecosystem services. By modeling the creation of a new neighborhood park, the video demonstrates how communities without green space can thrive when provided with valuable space for social interaction.

Building a Park Out of Waste covers how to reuse construction material to minimize greenhouse gasses and other waste. The video demonstrates how the demolition site of an old building can be converted into a community park. Materials such as concrete, wood, glass, and more are re-used in paving blocks, benches, and lights.

The Edible City is a an animation that shows how to turn a conventional community into an “edible city” by transforming unproductive spaces into agricultural landscapes that help fight obesity and reduce food deserts.

The ASLA videos can be used to supplement or extend the content in these Science NetLinks resources:

Ecosystem Services - Water Purification, 6-8 
Renewable Energy Sources, 6-8
True Green Kids: 100 Things You Can Do to Save the Planet, 6-8 
Green Roof Design, 9-12

Urban Ecosystems lesson series:
Cities Are Urban Ecosystems, 6-8
Why Are There Cities? A Historical Perspective, 6-8
Cities as Population Centers, 6-8
Metabolism of Urban Ecosystems, 6-8
In Defense of Cities
, 6-8

Science Updates
Urban Greening, 6-12
Artificial Wetlands, 6-12

Image Credit: Clipart.com


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