In an effort to promote sustainable practices to reduce and mitigate the effects of climate change, the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) and the ASLA Fund released a freely available guide for landscape architects on decarbonizing business operations. Towards Zero Emission Business Operations: A Landscape Architect’s Guide to Reducing the Climate Impacts of Offices, offers guidance to landscape architecture firms of all sizes for the process of transitioning to zero-emission offices.

The guide is a product of the ASLA Climate Action Committee which aims to advance the ASLA Climate Action Plan goals. The climate action plan “calls for landscape architects to reduce their project and business emissions by 50-65% by 2030 and achieve zero emissions by 2040,” the guide said. The guide offers the tools and skills to set landscape architecture firms on a path that achieves ASLA’s mission toward climate action.

Towards Zero Emission Business Operations is a best practice guide authored by landscape architect and ASLA Climate Action Committee Member Ronnie Siegel. “Decarbonization, electrification, and the transition to renewable energy create new opportunities for landscape architecture firms. By measuring emissions, making a plan, and taking action, any firm can get on a path to zero emissions,” Siegel said in a press release. Siegel interviewed 19 sustainability, landscape architecture, and architecture consulting companies to develop a comprehensive guide that outlines how firms can measure their carbon footprint, develop a climate action plan to reduce emotions and different actions to mitigate Scope 1,2, and 3 emissions.

The guide outlines five key steps toward reducing emissions and acknowledges different strategies are required for different-sized firms. It first explains how firms can create an inventory of GHG emissions with online calculators or consultant firms, and explains the difference between three types of emissions: burning fossil fuels from sources under a firms control; purchased emissions from a utility provider or similar; and emissions a firm is indirectly responsible for, ie. food or cleaning products.

Through concise and explanatory language, the tools for reducing emissions become attainable for landscape architects, even without previous knowledge of sustainability. It then gives real-world examples of how emissions can be reduced. The creation of an action plan with target goals is outlined, and the firm’s progress is tracked by a staff member or consultant. At last, it offers suggestions of what emissions to tackle first and how to increment yearly progress.

The guide makes what seems like a daunting task attainable. “We have the opportunity to transform our planet into one in which humanity lives in harmony with a much healthier, sustainable, and biodiverse natural world,” Siegel said, “landscape architects are leading this effort and can set an example to others in how we work and live.”


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