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Case Study - American Society of Landscape Architects

American Society of Landscape Architects
2011 Mayor's Environmental Excellence Award Winner:
Partner of the Year 

Stewardship of the environment has been part of the core mission of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) since its founding in 1899. Like the District Department of the Environment (DDOE), ASLA has numerous programs that directly improve the environment or increase sustainability through public education and outreach, including a dedicated area on our website called "Designing Our Future: Sustainable Landscapes" that includes studies and an animation channel. Also like DDOE, ASLA could not accomplish so many initiatives without the full commitment and participation of its leadership and staff.

Major Programs

Green Roof: ASLA has launched a number of programs to directly improve the environment, but perhaps none more visible than the Society's Green Roof Demonstration Project. Green roofs can solve significant environmental problems, including stormwater runoff, stormwater pollution, air quality, urban heat island effect, lost habitat, and more. ASLA's green roof was designed with the goals of demonstrating the environmental and aesthetic benefits of green roofs, and encouraging more widespread use of green roofs locally and nationally.

As part of the commitment to serving as a demonstration project, ASLA maintains an ongoing monitoring program and provides educational programs on green roofs as well as tours of the ASLA roof. The 3,000 square-foot roof keeps over 30,000 gallons of stormwater out of the DC sewer system each year-more than 77 percent of all precipitation that falls on the roof-and is reducing the amount of nitrogen entering the watershed. The roof lowers air temperature by as much as 43 degrees in the summer compared to neighboring roofs, while lowering utility costs 10 percent in the winter and 2 percent in the summer. You can learn more about the green roof, sign up for a tour, or view our webcam at

Sustainable Sites Initiative

ASLA is a founding partner of the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™), a program to transform land development and management practices through the nation's first voluntary guidelines and rating system for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. (Other major partners in

SITES are The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Botanic Garden.) The guidelines and rating system represent four years of work by dozens of the country's leading sustainability experts, scientists, and design professionals and incorporates public input from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations. SITES is currently working with more than 150 pilot projects to employ the cutting-edge guidelines and performance benchmarks outlined in the SITES Rating System. Eleven local pilot projects are among them, including the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History & Culture, American University's School of International Service, Square 80 Plaza at The George Washington University, Casey Trees, Brent Elementary School, U.S. Department of Commerce's Herbert C. Hoover Building Landscape Renovation, U.S. Department of Agriculture's People Garden, U.S. Tax Court's Landscape Renewal, the United States Botanic Garden's Bartholdi Park, Oxon Run Park Trail Rehabilitation Project, and Washington Canal Park. Additional information can be found at

Sustainable Business and Building Operations

In addition to outreach and education, ASLA incorporates sustainable practices across everything from human resources to publishing. In fact, a staff "green operations" committee is charged with identifying additional ways to green building operations, and to educate the full staff on eco-friendly processes. Some highlights include:

  • The headquarters building was for the first time Energy Star-certified in 2008. Among buildings the same size, ASLA's energy performance is in the top 15 percent. Building-related CO2 emissions are zero because ASLA buys 100 percent renewable energy from Pepco.
  • Landscape Architecture Magazine (LAM) meets all magazine industry standards for sustainable publishing. LAM has moved to 100 percent Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified paper and virtual proofing, which not only reduces the carbon footprint of the magazine, but is also less expensive.
  • ASLA is a Best Workplace for Commuters and provides a transit subsidy to employees who use mass transit. The Society also provides a modest financial incentive to employees who walk or ride bicycles.
  • ASLA only uses natural, biodegradable, non-hazardous cleaning products.
  • Staff can control individual cubicle-level lights, and engage in daylight harvesting. When the sun is out, desk lights go out.



Top row from left to right:
Jared Green, Jim Lapides, Monica Barkley, Keith Swann
Bottom Row, L to R:
Krista Sharp, Terry Poltrack, Nancy Somerville, Brooke Hinrichs.

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