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featured on Prioritizing Performance Amid Changing Climates

Nicole Warns

Excerpt from

As prominent shapers of our built environment, landscape architects play an outsized role in merging built and natural systems that impact our planetary health — and thus have an obligation to lead the way in reframing the sustainable design dialog around landscape performance. A critical aspect in doing so is shifting the dialog from oftentimes subjective notions of sustainability to a more empirical framework, which is best viewed through the lens of landscape performance.

Any conversation about landscape performance must begin with a shared understanding of what exactly it entails.

Against the backdrop of near-daily reminders that climate change’s impact on society is vast and rapidly accelerating — from the routine release of increasingly daunting scientific assessments to the prevalence of more commonly occurring and more devastating wildfires, storms, droughts and heat waves — the role of landscape architects in combating climate change is fundamentally important. In today’s environmental context, every aspect of our work must contribute to sustainable outcomes and offsetting climate change. We must modify our practices to ensure our contributions are measurable and defensible in their ability to mitigate the impacts of climate change and counter the oftentimes resultant inequity in our communities.

The Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) is helping promote the issue for our industry through its advocacy and its focus (as one key tenet of its mission) upon research. As practitioners, each of us can adapt our practices to better support a performance-based landscape design approach. At TBG Partners, this adaptation encompasses many aspects of our firm’s identity, including our culture and beliefs, our processes and procedures, and our partnerships.

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