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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Arid Lands Workshop Recap #1

The past few Saturdays, I attended the First (“Smart Buildings: Green Roofs and Green Walls”) and Second (“Smart Landscapes: Yard, Driveway, Sidewalk, Street”) Workshops of the Arid Lands Institute’s spring series.  The workshops provided a great overview of the design strategies and opportunities available now to rethink how we design our built environment.  Although the information was a bit general for any informed attendees, the workshops provided some poignant facts, great ideas, and inspiring project examples.  Below are some of the highlights from the First Workshop.

"Smart Buildings: Green Roofs and Green Walls"
The workshop began with an introduction by Hadley Arnold, Director of the Arid Lands Institute, on the importance of the Energy - Water nexus.  Hadley laid out critical goals for the workshops and the Arid Land Institute, and described the challenges facing our region relating to water and energy.  Some points of note from her introduction:
1. Los Angeles is roughly 70 - 80% impermeable
2. To produce energy requires a lot of water, and to use water requires a lot of energy.
3. The State of California is the single largest user of electricity in the state, using the power to pump water from northern to southern California.  The second largest user, Metro Water.
4. Slow it. Soak it. Sink it. Store it. Save it. (a familiar mantra for water management)
Given these challenges, she underscored the need for us to "rethink every surface of the built environment," and pull two ideas from the workshops:
1. Link Energy + Water
2. Localize Water Management 
After her introduction, Landscape Architect Stephanie Landregan, and Architects Deborah Richmond and Linda Taalman presented issues surrounding the use of green roofs and green walls.  Although they presented some interesting work and project examples, I found their ending of a working summary of Plant Rules to live by a nice, succinct expression of sustainable tenets for design professionals and citizens alike to embrace. Below is an abbreviated list of them:
1. Water Plants (not sidewalk and driveway)
2. Locals Only (use native plants)
3. Breath Air
4. Feed Bees and Butterflies
5. Launder your lawn (graywater reuse)
6. Eat your lawn (convert to an edible estate)
7. Raise the ground (put it on your roof)
8. Hang Plants (green walls and facades)
9. Save Gas, not Grass (stop mowing)

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