Sustainable Design

On the Local Level

The  members of the ASLA Northern California Chapter fully support and encourage sustainable practices and environmental stewardship. The Chapter is in the process of creating a Stewardship Committee that would provide examples of the types of programs, events and review of local policies that will help  our members to become more proactive in addressing environmental stewardship and sustainability issues. To this end we currently integrate sustainable education in our annual lecture series as well as in our awards program. We outreach current advocacy issues to our members  through email blasts in conjunction with national’s e-advocacy  program.

We are looking for interested chapter members to join this committee to prepare a Northern California ASLA Stewardship Toolkit that could be used by our membership as a sustainable framework plan. Currently we have the toolkit prepared by the San Diego chapter which is composed of three key documents, The San Diego Stewardship Documents, The San Diego Position Papers, and the WRT Green Office Operations. If you are interested in being part of the Stewardship Committee to provide environmental leadership please contact us.

On the National Level

Sustainable ASLA documents ASLA’s full commitment to promote sustainable design practices through program initiatives and day-to-day operations.

Here are some of the ways we practice what we preach:

The Sustainable Sites Initiative

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary partnership led by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to transform land development and management practices with the nation’s first voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings.

Advocating for Sustainable Design across the U.S. Government

Working with federal and state policy makers and agencies, ASLA Government Affairs increases awareness of the profession and advocates for policies that use landscape architecture to design more sustainable communities.

Best Practices

Landscape architects are also leading the way in planning and designing multimodal transportation corridors, which include bike lanes and paths, sidewalks, and access to public transportation.  As a Steering Committee member of the National Complete Streets Coalition, ASLA advocates for a federal Complete Streets policy.

As a member of the High Performance Building Congressional Caucus Coalition, ASLA highlights how the building industry is working with federal agencies to increase building energy efficiency.

ASLA has signed on to the 2030 Coalition, a campaign led by the American Institute of Architects (AIA), to reach at least a 50 percent reduction in C02 emission from buildings by 2010, and fully carbon neutral buildings by 2030.


An interview series focused on sustainability creates a broader dialogue on sustainable development through an exchange of ideas with both leading and up-and-coming designers, academics, and policy makers.

A set of sustainability resource guides outline hundreds of research studies, government resources, model projects, and online guides that help design professionals and local policy makers plug the latest sustainable development ideas into their communities.

Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes” is an online exhibition featuring sustainability case studies. The case studies serve as a key learning tool for the general public and explain what landscape architects do and the importance of sustainable design. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is supporting the educational aspects of the site.

A new Professional Practice Network blog, The Field, outlines sustainable design solutions for landscape architects.

LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

LEED is a green building certification system developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). It provides a framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations, and maintenance solutions. U.S. Green Building Council Local Chapters include the Northern California Chapter and the Redwood Empire Chapter.

 CALGreen Code

This is the nation’s first statewide green building standards code, effective in California since January 1, 2011.

Bay-Friendly Landscaping & Gardening Coalition

The Bay-Friendly Coalition is a non-profit organization focused specifically on promoting sustainable landscaping and gardening practices in the San Francisco Bay Area.

EPA Stormwater Calculator

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new Stormwater Calculator as a desktop application that estimates the annual amount of rainwater and frequency of runoff from a specific site anywhere in the United States. Estimates are based on local soil conditions, land cover, and historic rainfall records.

Plant Right

PlantRight provides free, online training and resources to ASLA-NCC members, including a list of invasive garden plants and suggested alternatives. PlantRight is a science-based, collaborative and voluntary campaign started in 2005 to promote noninvasive plants for California.