Aren't landscapes "green" already? Perhaps not.
Christie Dustman, Certified Landscape Designer
For many of us home lovers, it is easy to see the house as separate from the landscape. But would you believe that under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for Homes Rating system sponsored by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), efforts made to promote a sustainable home site are recognized as fully as indoor air quality and energy-efficiency? The LEED for Homes program rates not only the built house, but also the treatment of the surrounding site by promoting efforts such as minimizing environmental damage during construction, responsibly managing surface water, and using non-invasive plants that will thrive in existing conditions.
This holistic stewardship approach to the house-land connection is making inroads in the landscaping industry too. More and more often, I am asked to consult on the landscaping part of a home project and advise on how to minimize site damage, determine what plant material should be saved or transplanted and how to carry a "green" approach from the indoors to the outdoors right from the initial planning phase. All homeowners can adopt a stewardship mentality about their property with some guidance.
In the Northeast, the landscape industry found guidance in the tenets espoused by the Organic Farming movement. In 2001, the Northeast Organic Land Care committee published the first guide to Organic Land Care in the USA. It defines organic practices for landscape design and the maintenance of ecological landscapes. These standards are voluntary and establish organic ways to do our work, rather than just switching to less-toxic methods or planting a native tree here and there.
This commitment to sustainability is more than just trying not to hit that majestic oak tree near the new addition with the trucks, or the attitude of "we'll remediate once we're done." It is a fundamental commitment to environmental preservation. As a Certified Organic Land Care professional myself, I see the LEED program as demanding good common sense and respect for the environment from the building industry. What a perfect way for enlightened landscapers and builders to work together.
To learn more about Christie and her work, please visit christiedustman.com.
More from Our Viewpoint
Learn more about us
Review our goals