Sustainable Landscape Architecture

Sara Parhoun received her Master’s degree in Landscape Architecture from OWL University of Applied Science and Arts and is currently working towards her doctoral degree as research assistant under the supervision of Professor Dr.-Ing. Hendrik Laue. The full title of her dissertation project is „Sustainable Landscape Architecture – Integration of ecological criteria for the object-related planning process of landscape architecture“.

Sara Parhoun

One of the most central problems of our time is climate change with its multi-layered effects on the environment and our living conditions. The built environment in particular is very sensitive to environmental changes and new solutions are required at all levels. Here it is necessary to focus on the problem situation and develop new approaches for a sustainable built environment as a permanent basis of life for the majority of humanity. Dealing with the finiteness of resources due to this problem requires, in particular, sustainability strategies as a solution that address the responsibility for preserving environmental assets (climate, water, soil, flora, and fauna). This must be done by reducing the impact on natural resources and environmental assets.

One possible pattern of action pursues a consistent application of sustainability principles measured against ecological system performance. In this regard, the dynamic process of landscape architecture has important tasks as part of the construction industry. The Ph.D. project’s aim is to prepare ecological criteria and indicators of sustainability in order to better integrate them into object-related planning processes of landscape architecture for the long-term stability of ecological and economic foundations. At the object planning level, there are currently only limited standardized specifications for sustainable building projects. Landscape architecture will need defined fields of action and criteria in the future that relate to the input and output of resources in order to be able to adequately implement possible environmental goals of urban land use planning in object planning as well. Landscape architecture requires solution variants for ecological impact variables and their services for its own project sites. This first requires generated ecological characteristic data for different spatial planning levels. In addition, an application model aid for different spatial variations of environmental variables could be used for spatial analysis of a selected site.

Basically, international and national sustainability assessment systems as well as software applications offer approaches to evaluate ecological criteria (e.g. in Germany, Sustainable Urban districts by the German Sustainable Building Council NachhaltigeStadtquartiere der Deutschen Gesellschaft für nachhaltiges Bauen (DGNB), by the Federal Government the Sustainable Building Assessment System Bewertungssystem Nachhaltiges Bauen (BNB) or software applications such as GreenScenario by Ramboll/Atelier Dreiseitl). However, on the one hand, essential characteristic data for special applications in landscape architecture and landscape construction are missing here. On the other hand, different specifications are set that are only comprehensible to a limited extent in detail. In addition, the comparison of different systems reveals gaps in the holistic evaluation of ecological data. For example, there are no ecological product data and fact sheets (so-called Environmental Product Declarations, EPDs). An EPD represents environmentally relevant properties of a specific product in the form of neutral and objective data. EPDs for outdoor coverings, for produced plant assets, or for substrates do not currently exist. Therefore, it is another goal of this work to compile defined ecological characteristics for all these systems as a standard for landscape architecture.