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LAF Offers Second Round of Landscape Performance Education Grants

To accelerate the adoption of landscape performance in design education, LAF is offering five $2,500 mini-grants to select university faculty for the Spring 2015. Participating faculty will work with LAF to develop and test models for integrating landscape performance into standard landscape architecture course offerings, such as research and methods, site planning and analysis, design studios, and other lecture or seminar courses.

studioApplications are now available and will be due Nov 14, 2014. Each application is to include a teaching proposal, which will be evaluated for quality and feasibility by LAF and an independent committee of educators. Grant recipients will be announced in early December.

Download Grant Application

Grant recipients will work closely with LAF and its Education Committee to finalize the teaching proposals, which will then be implemented during the Spring 2015 semester/term. Formal course evaluations will be used to determine the success and replicability of the teaching models tested, including whether specific landscape performance learning objectives are met.

Course materials developed through the Landscape Performance Education Grants are housed in the Resources for Educators section on the LAF website, which offers teaching tools like syllabi, reading lists, and assignments for faculty members interested in teaching landscape performance to the next generation of design professionals. Materials produced from the first round of mini-grants can be found there.

icpifoundation-newThis initiative is made possible by the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute’s Foundation for Education & Research, whose support will allow LAF to award a total of $25,000 in grants to educators, with five grants made in the 2013-2014 academic year and five in 2014-2015.

LPS Collection: Living Architecture

Curated by: Steven W. Peck


Steven W. Peck, GRP, Honorary ASLA, is the founder and president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, the North American green roof and wall industry association. Mr. Peck is also the Co-Founder of the World Green Infrastructure Network and publisher of The Living Architecture Monitor quarterly magazine. Since 1996, he has worked to advance the green roof and wall industry by facilitating research and demonstration projects, organizing conferences and workshops, building institutional capacity, lecturing, publishing, and advocating for supportive policies and standards at all levels of government.


Case Study Briefs

advocatelutheranAdvocate Lutheran General Hospital Patient Tower
Park Ridge, Illinois

“Views of the hospital’s intensive green roof helped reduced stress and make the hospital stay easier for half of cancer patients surveyed. This demonstrates how green roofs and other living infrastructure can help in the healing and coping process.”

underwoodUnderwood Family Sonoran Landscape Laboratory
Tucson, Arizona

“The southern exposure features a green façade of native vines, which shade and cool the building. This type of green wall offers a fairly low-cost way to beautify, screen, and add function to what would otherwise be disregarded space.”


garycomerGary Comer Youth Center
Chicago, Illinois

“This intensive green roof is a working garden that produces over 1000 lbs of organic food annually and functions as an outdoor classroom. The design showcases how green roofs can be integrated with other sustainable systems like light wells and passive climate control.”

klydewarrenKlyde Warren Park
Dallas, Texas

“Green roof systems can be used on a wide range of scales, from a residential roof to a multi-block, at-grade structure over parking or transportation infrastructure. This 5-acre green roof acts as a bridge, tunnel, and park all in one, transforming this part of Dallas.”

Fast Fact Library

The combination of green roofs and green walls can lower ambient temperatures in typical “urban canyon”-like streets, achieving up to a 12.8˚C (23˚F) ambient temperature difference in an arid climate, and 8.4˚C (15.1˚F) in a humid climate. This combination had the greatest effect compared to no vegetation, green roofs only, and green walls (walls covered in vegetation, such as climbing vines) only. Green roofs alone had the second greatest ambient temperature effect, likely due to roofs’ higher exposure to sunlight.

“This study illustrates how various forms of living architecture can be used together to increase impact.”

A green roof test plot at the University of Georgia retained 88% of precipitation for small storms (<2.54 cm), 48% for larger storms (>7.62 cm), and delayed the peak flow by an average of 18 minutes for 31 rain events between Nov 2003 and Nov 2004.

“This is one of many test plots and actual green roof studies that show how green roofs can significantly reduce the volume of stormwater runoff and delay peak flows.”

Benefits Toolkit

Green Roof Energy Calculator (v 2.0)
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, Portland State University, University of Toronto

“Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (GRHC) collaborated with researchers at Portland State University and the University of Toronto to develop this free, easy-to-use tool. For GRHC members, we also developed the GreenSave Calculator, which allows users to compare the life cycle costs and benefits of up to three roofing designs.”

Coming This Fall: 20 New Case Study Briefs

This fall, LAF is rolling out 20 new case studies that showcase the environmental, economic, and social benefits of high-performing landscapes. The case studies are part of LAF’s award-winning Landscape Performance Series, an online, interactive set of resources to help you quantify benefits, show value, and make the case for sustainable landscape solutions. By year-end, the searchable database will contain over 100 Case Study Briefs.

2014casestudies-175wFrom the Atlanta Beltline to exemplar public high schools to the Visitors Center at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, the new case studies represent a range of locations, scales, and project types. Documented landscape performance benefits include:

  • Influenced the housing choice of 76% of 51 survey respondents who live within one mile of the park. (Renaissance Park, Chattanooga, TN)
  • Reduces hardscape surface temperatures by 30-45°F and maintains playground surface temperatures under 82°F. (George “Doc” Cavalliere Park, Scottsdale, AZ)
  • Promotes physical activity with 70% of survey respondents saying they exercise more since the opening of the Eastside Trail. (Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail, Atlanta, GA)
  • Provides educational opportunities for an estimated 50,000 visitors per year. 68% of 71 survey respondents achieved the learning objectives, answering 7 out of 9 questions correctly. (Brian C. Nevin Welcome Center, Cornell Plantation, Ithaca, NY)
  • Contributed to an 85% increase in the values of properties that were located within a half-block of the streetscape. (1100 Block of Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach, FL)

These exemplary projects were documented through LAF’s 2014 Case Study Investigation (CSI) program, a unique research collaboration that matched 7 LAF-funded faculty/student research teams with practitioners from 15 participating design firms. The teams worked together to develop methods to quantify performance benefits and produce the Case Study Briefs. The next CSI program will run March – August 2015 with applications available starting in October.

Visit the LPS Case Study Briefs page to see the latest or follow us on Facebook , LinkedIn , or Twitter to get updates as each new case study is released.

Keeping Promises: Exploring the Role of Post-Occupancy Evaluation in Landscape Architecture

How well do constructed landscapes live up to the lofty goals established by design professionals? And how do we know? Former CSI research assistant and University of Oregon graduate student Andrew Louw is investigating this topic for his masters thesis. He is both trying to understand the role of post-occupancy evaluation (POE) within the landscape architecture profession and exploring the use of a digital data collection method for POEs.


Though environmental, social, and economic performance goals are often identified during the pre-design and design stages of a project, most projects lack effective post-construction monitoring and observation to determine if, and how well, the project’s design goals are being met. LAF’s Case Study Investigation (CSI) program was born out of a need to encourage and support design firms in assessing performance and documenting the benefits of sustainable landscape projects. CSI is now in its fourth year, and leading firms are increasingly investing in in-house research. Yet  little is known about the use of and perceptions towards post-occupancy evaluation within the profession as a whole.

Louw believes a method known as Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI), which is already used widely in the design process, may be well-suited for post-occupancy landscape performance analysis. The technology increases the capacity for analysis by crowdsourcing data collection to users, has relatively low cost, offers the opportunity for longitudinal study, and could be more objective than traditional methods since there is less chance for bias from volunteers.

Louw is evaluating Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) as a tool for POE by comparing it with traditional approaches like direct observation and intercept surveys. Using a LAF case study site, Central Wharf Plaza in Boston, he also sets out to develop a framework for using Facilitated Volunteer Geographic Information (F-VGI) for evaluating landscape performance.

Landscape architecture practitioners and others interested in landscape performance are invited to participate in Louw’s study by taking the following survey:

Please share the link with others!

From Studying to Shaping: Working with Ecologists to Operationalize "Earth Stewardship"

esi-arp“Sustainability goals will be met only if we change the way science intersects society.” The Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) Earth Stewardship Initiative is trying to tackle this challenge head-on. This year, the ESA Annual Meeting featured a demonstration project centered around Sacramento’s American River Parkway, a 23-mile, 5,000-acre greenway that provides flood protection, habitat, and recreation opportunities.

Organized by Dr. Alexander Felson of Yale University with support from outgoing ESA President Dr. Jill Baron and Professor Neal Williams of the University of California-Davis, the initiative brought together a large group of stakeholders to explore how ecological theory, research, and applications can be integrated with the knowledge and work of consultants, practitioners and policymakers to increase ecological function, resilience, and human well-being.

During the conference, a group of 20 Research Fellows attended a jam-packed week of events focused on moving “from studying to shaping” using the design process. Throughout the week, dozens of other conference attendees participated in the activities and engaged in the dialogue. The first few days focused on site analysis and information gathering to better understand the American River Parkway and its context.


To help the ecologists better understand the design process, a panel of landscape architects, including Dr. Fritz Steiner, FASLA, University of Texas at Austin; Mia Lehrer, FASLA, Mia Lehrer + Associates; and Stephen Engblom, AECOM presented on their work and what informs it.

As the core group moved from site analysis to thinking about conceptual design and planning, the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF) presented on landscape performance and shared a number of precedents from the projects in our Landscape Performance Series.


The following day, the Research Fellows were joined by the landscape architect panelists, other representatives from their firms, Mark Johnson, FASLA of Civitas, Julia Watson of Studio Rede, and a host of conservation scientists, engineers, and other American River Parkway stakeholders to develop design concepts through a fast-paced charrette process. The ideas addressed a wide range of issues including innovative ways to deal with damming from beavers, improving salmon habitat, providing and studying bee nesting sites, and incorporating green jobs training for the parkway’s sizable homeless population.

The week culminated in the presentation of these concepts to American River Parkway management leaders followed by a strategy discussion of how to continue the collaboration. The Research Fellows and a fall Yale graduate course will continue to refine the design concepts to develop actionable projects.

LAF was proud to participate in this ground-breaking initiative and looks forward to continuing the dialogue about use-inspired application of ecological science, and how the expertise of ecologists can better inform the work of landscape architects in designing for and evaluating landscape performance.