Cover image for Sustainable landscape construction : a guide to green building outdoors
Sustainable landscape construction : a guide to green building outdoors
Thompson, J. William.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Island Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxi, 348 pages : illustrations ; 28 cm
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TH380 .T46 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize
TH380 .T46 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks-Oversize

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Organised around ten clear principles of sustainability, Sustainable Landscape Construction presents specific and practical methods of building structures and landscaping outdoor areas.

Author Notes

J. William Thompson is story editor for Landscape Architecture, the magazine of the American Society of Landscape Architects.
Kim Sorvig is research professor at the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico, and co-author of the Sustainable Building Technical Manual published for the U.S. Green Building Council.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Thompson, story editor for Landscape Architecture magazine from the American Society of Landscape Architects, and Sorvig (Univ. of New Mexico) offer this practical book as the best resource to date for guidance in planning, building, and maintaining sustainable landscapes. Using examples from over one hundred projects throughout the world, the authors organize this book around ten principles of sustainability. For each area, conventional and alternative materials and techniques of landscape construction are succinctly described. The authors cover such topics as the development and maintenance of healthy sites, the management of lighting and sound, the implications of paving, and the origin, nature, disposition, and renewability of materials. Extensive photographs, drawings, and tables augment the text. Useful appendixes cover the hazards and impacts of landscape materials. This book is written by respected practitioners and is basically oriented to the traditional architectural and planning readership. However, it will undoubtedly appeal to the ever-growing audience interested in the timely topic of sustainability. Highly recommended. All levels. E. H. Teague; North Carolina State University

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. xv
List of Tablesp. xix
Acknowledgmentsp. xxi
Contacting the Authorsp. xxi
Introductionp. 1
What Is Sustainability: Politics, Ethics, and Semanticsp. 2
Green Building: Definitions and Initiativesp. 4
Sustainability: Convention, Tradition, and Innovationp. 6
The Landscape Professions: NOT Construction "versus" Designp. 7
An Evolving Effortp. 8
Who Should Use This Book?p. 8
How to Use This Bookp. 9
Principle-Focused Organizationp. 10
Abbreviationsp. 10
Resource Lists for Further Informationp. 10
Individuals and Firms Mentioned in This Bookp. 11
Exemplary Landscapesp. 11
Successes and Challengesp. 13
But How Can Landscapes Damage the Environment?p. 13
Technical Issues: Resources and Biodiversityp. 13
From How to Whyp. 14
Natural "Look" and Ecological Function--A Paradox?p. 15
The Hand of the Designerp. 15
"Ecorevelatory Design"p. 17
Form Follows Function in Nature, Toop. 18
The Appearance of Sustainabilityp. 19
Get an Attitudep. 20
Take a Role in "Preconstruction"p. 21
Build a Site-Focused Teamp. 21
The Challenges of Changep. 23
Resourcesp. 24
Generalp. 24
Ecologyp. 24
Green Buildingp. 24
Constructionp. 25
Technologyp. 25
Style and Sustainabilityp. 25
Planning, Design, and Managementp. 26
Teamworkp. 27
Community-Based Planningp. 27
Principle 1. Keep Healthy Sites Healthyp. 29
What Is a Healthy Site?p. 29
Do Your Homework FIRST: Knowledge as Sustainabilityp. 31
Locate Features during Site Reconnaissancep. 32
Specially Protect Streams, Lakes, and Wetlandsp. 32
Tap Local Knowledge of Sites and Seasonsp. 33
Avoid Survey Damagep. 33
Manage Line-of-Sight Surveysp. 33
Use Alternative Survey Technologyp. 34
Global Positioningp. 34
Project Examples Using GPSp. 35
Laser 3-D Site Imagingp. 36
Low-Tech, Nonline-of-Sight Toolsp. 36
Minimize Utility Damagep. 37
Use Narrow Easements and Trenchesp. 37
Reduce Clearing for Access Roadsp. 37
Keep Urban Utilities Accessiblep. 39
Plant the Right Street Trees, and Prune Them Rightp. 40
Make New Utility Technologies Less Intrusivep. 41
Specify and Lobby for "Alternative" Utility Systemsp. 41
Physically Protect Site during Constructionp. 42
Clearly Designate Protected Areasp. 43
Fence Protected Areas and Maintain throughout Constructionp. 43
Limit On-Site Stockpiling, Parking, Etc.p. 44
Choose Staging Areas Carefullyp. 44
Preserve Healthy Topsoilp. 45
Avoid Soil Compactionp. 45
Don't "Improve" Healthy Native Soilsp. 46
Save Every Possible Existing Treep. 47
Evaluate Existing Trees with Professional Helpp. 47
Remove Trees Early, if at Allp. 48
Remember the Health Benefits of Deathp. 48
Fence All Protected Trees Thoroughlyp. 49
Build with Great Care under Treesp. 49
Avoid Grade Changes near Treesp. 50
Don't Half-Save a Treep. 50
Use Appropriate Construction Machineryp. 50
Don't Assume a Need for Heavy Equipmentp. 50
Use the Lightest Machinery Availablep. 52
Related Design and Planning Issuesp. 54
Site Selectionp. 54
"Building Envelopes"p. 55
Reasonable Grading and Clearing Regulationsp. 55
Covenants for Site Protectionp. 56
Zones within Constructed Landscapesp. 56
Specifying Site Protection in Contractsp. 56
Coordination and Follow-Upp. 57
Resourcesp. 57
Surveying and Mappingp. 57
Site Inventoryp. 58
Site Protectionp. 58
Site Protection: Vegetationp. 59
Vegetation: Consultantsp. 59
Vegetation: Native Plantsp. 60
Utility Impactp. 60
Energy Generationp. 60
Toolsp. 60
Principle 2. Heal Injured Sitesp. 61
Turn Wastelands into Gardensp. 61
Derelict Sitesp. 62
Brownfieldsp. 62
Toxic Sitesp. 62
Balance Costs and Benefits of Restorationp. 63
Involve the Community in Site Restorationp. 64
Know the Site's Historyp. 64
Start an Urban Barn Raisingp. 64
Follow the Lead of Community Garden Groupsp. 65
Invest in a Garden Festival Restorationp. 66
Make a Virtue of the Necessity for Landfillsp. 68
Recognize Agricultural and Rural Restorationp. 69
Fit Techniques to Both Community and Sitep. 69
Restore Landscape Structurallyp. 70
Restore Environmentally Appropriate Gradingp. 70
Grade to Follow Regional Landformsp. 70
Grade Long Slopes in Stepsp. 72
Grade Subsoil, Not Topsoilp. 72
Note: Regrading and Wetlandsp. 73
Remove Damaging Structuresp. 73
Remove Excess Pavingp. 73
Replace Overengineered Drainage Structuresp. 74
Create Landscapes on Landfillsp. 74
Trees versus the Cap?p. 75
Fresh Killsp. 75
Suggested Practices for Landfill Sitesp. 76
Restore Damaged Soils On-Sitep. 77
Avoid "Topsoiling"p. 77
Stockpile Existing Topsoilp. 77
Balance Cut and Fillp. 78
"Amend" Soil--But with Restraintp. 79
Materials and Energy for Soil Amendmentp. 79
Use Greenwaste and Other Compostsp. 81
Availability and Quality of Compostp. 82
On-Site Use of Yard Wastep. 83
Green Manure Cropsp. 83
Watch for Lead in Soilsp. 83
Heal the Soil with Biosolidsp. 83
Biosolids Project Examplesp. 85
Manufactured Soilp. 86
Projectsp. 87
Suggested Practices for Soil Restorationp. 88
Restore Regionally Appropriate Vegetationp. 88
Remove Invasive Plants and Restore Successionp. 89
Follow Field-Based Planting Patternsp. 90
Match Plants to Restoration Purposesp. 91
Plants for Wildlife Restorationp. 91
Phytoremediation for Brownfields Cleanupp. 91
Bioremediationp. 94
Get Specialist Help for Toxic Wastesp. 95
Resourcesp. 95
Site Restorationp. 95
Brownfieldsp. 96
Gradingp. 96
Compost and Mulchp. 96
Biosolidsp. 97
Soilsp. 97
Soil Amendments and Manufactured Soilp. 97
Phytoremediationp. 97
Bioremediationp. 97
Principle 3. Favor Living, Flexible Materialsp. 99
Hold Slopes with Biotechnical Erosion Controlp. 100
Bind the Soil with Living Plantsp. 100
Control Surface Erosion with Mats and Mulchesp. 101
Mats and Blanketsp. 102
Mulches and Composts for Slope Stabilizationp. 102
Evaluate and Monitor Each Site Carefullyp. 102
Project Examplesp. 103
Suggested Practices for Bioengineeringp. 105
Make Vertical Structures "Habitat-able"p. 105
Advantages of Greenwallsp. 106
Types of Greenwallsp. 106
Plantable Masonry Structuresp. 107
The Evergreen Troughp. 108
Greening the Block Wallp. 108
Flexible Soil Support Systemsp. 109
Experiments with Meshp. 109
Sandbag Variationsp. 109
Cellular Containmentp. 110
Design Issuesp. 111
Turn Barren Roof Spaces into Ecoroofsp. 111
Environmental Benefits of Ecoroofsp. 112
Project Examplesp. 113
Ecoroof Materials and Approachesp. 114
Suggested Practices for Ecoroofsp. 115
Construct For and With Plantsp. 116
Follow Up-to-Date Planting Structure Guidelinesp. 118
Street-Tree Structuresp. 118
"Structural Soil" for Urban Plantingsp. 120
Planters, Raised Beds, and Containersp. 122
Updated Standards for Uncontained Plantings, Toop. 122
Select Sustainable Species (and Substitutes)p. 123
What Is a Native?p. 124
Handle with Carep. 125
Choice of Nursery Stockp. 125
Moving and Storagep. 126
Planting Practicesp. 126
Wildflowersp. 127
Maintaining New Plantingsp. 127
Organic Maintenancep. 128
Count on Plants to Sustainp. 128
Resourcesp. 129
Bioengineeringp. 129
Erosion Controlp. 129
Greenwalls and Ecoroofsp. 130
Plants: Valuationp. 130
Plantingsp. 130
Plantings: Native Plantsp. 131
Plantings: Structuresp. 131
Horticultural Productsp. 131
Principle 4. Respect the Waters of Lifep. 133
Work with the Site's Water Regimep. 133
Respect Natural Drainage Patternsp. 134
Accept Regional Limitations of Water Supplyp. 135
Deal with Stormwater near Where It Fallsp. 136
Protect and Restore Natural Wetlandsp. 138
Recognize "Services" Provided by Wetlandsp. 138
Know the Issues before Working in or near Wetlandsp. 139
Understanding and Recognizing Wetlandsp. 139
Legal and Political Issuesp. 140
Wetlands "Creation" and Brokeringp. 140
Protect Wetlands during Constructionp. 141
Wetlands Require Different Protection Strategiesp. 142
Decrease Impacts if Building in Wetlandsp. 142
Restore Damaged Wetlandsp. 144
Project Examplep. 145
Restore Rivers and Streams to Full Healthp. 146
Project Examplesp. 150
Collect and Conserve Waterp. 154
Harvest Water from Roofs and Landscapesp. 154
Project Examplep. 156
Infiltrate Water Simply On-Sitep. 156
Store Water for Later Usep. 158
Use Pumps if Neededp. 158
Filter and Purify Collected Water for Drinkingp. 158
Irrigate Intelligently and Sparinglyp. 159
Xeriscape and Low-Water Landscapesp. 159
Water-Efficient Irrigation Technologyp. 160
Drip Irrigation Equipmentp. 161
Controllers and Sensors for Efficient Irrigationp. 162
Energy Efficiency of Irrigation Systemsp. 163
Materials Efficiency of Irrigation Systemsp. 164
Reuse Greywaterp. 165
Purify Water with Constructed Wetlandsp. 165
Resourcesp. 169
Wetlandsp. 169
Wetlands Restorationp. 169
Construction in Wetlandsp. 170
Stream Restorationp. 170
Stormwaterp. 170
Water Harvesting, Storage, and Purificationp. 171
Planning, Design, and Managementp. 171
Greywaterp. 171
Xeriscape, Permaculture, and Related Strategiesp. 171
Irrigationp. 171
Controllers and Sensorsp. 172
Constructed Wetlandsp. 172
Principle 5. Pave Lessp. 173
Plan and Design to Reduce Pavingp. 174
Put New Development on a "Parking Diet"p. 175
Legalize Narrower Streets and "Traffic Calming"p. 177
Environmental Benefits of Narrower Streetsp. 178
On Sensitive Sites, Scatter the Parkingp. 179
Just Say No to Some Paving Demandsp. 180
Reduce Runoff from Pavingp. 181
Make Gutters and Curbs Permeablep. 182
Infiltrate Road and Parking-Lot Runoff in Bioswalesp. 182
Use Porous Paving Materialsp. 184
Porous Asphalt and Concretep. 184
Pave with Grassp. 186
Grassed Paving: Project Examplesp. 188
Unit Pavers on Permeable Subgradep. 189
Cool Asphalt with Planting and Albedop. 190
Resourcesp. 192
Overpavingp. 192
Pavingp. 192
Porous Pavingp. 192
Bioswalesp. 193
Roadway Designp. 193
Traffic Calmingp. 193
Heat Islandsp. 193
Principle 6. Consider Origin and Fate of Materialsp. 195
Some Simple Guidelinesp. 196
Let Reuse Be Reinspirationp. 196
Use Local, Salvaged, or Recycled Materialsp. 196
Use On-Site Materialsp. 198
Boulders, Stone, Brick, and Timberp. 199
Adobe, Soil Cement, and Other Earthen Materialsp. 201
Find and Reuse Off-Site Salvagep. 203
Stonep. 203
Timberp. 204
Crushed Glassp. 204
Tiresp. 205
Specify Remanufactured Materialsp. 207
Plastic Lumberp. 207
Recycled Glass Tilep. 209
Crumb Rubberp. 209
Other Recycled Materialsp. 210
Recycle at the Job Sitep. 210
Evaluate Supplier-Specific Costsp. 210
Use Sustainably Harvested Renewablesp. 211
Salvage Wood Where Possiblep. 212
Specify Sustainably Harvested and Processed Woodp. 212
Substitute Straw and Other Wastes for Woodp. 212
Avoid Toxic and Nonrenewable Materialsp. 213
Anticipate Hazards from Prior Land Usesp. 213
Be Aware of Direct Hazards from Constructionp. 216
Minimize Invisible Hazards Off-Sitep. 216
Impacts of General Manufacturing Processesp. 217
Use and Advocate Life-Cycle Analysis (LCA)p. 218
Toxicity Summaries by Material Typep. 218
Plastics Used in the Landscapep. 219
Three Controversial Materialsp. 219
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC and CPVC)p. 221
Wood Preservativesp. 221
Toxics as "Fertilizer"p. 223
Selecting Landscape Materials: Prioritiesp. 223
Resourcesp. 224
Materialsp. 224
Materials Selectionp. 224
Materials: On-Sitep. 225
Materials: Recycledp. 225
Sustainable Woodp. 225
Construction Waste Managementp. 226
Hazard Identificationp. 226
Materials: Nontoxic or Alternativep. 226
Life-Cycle Analysisp. 227
Principle 7. Know the Costs of Energy Over Timep. 229
Landscape Energy Use Is Differentp. 230
Types of Energy in Constructionp. 230
Energy in Buildings vs. Energy in Landscapesp. 230
Saving Energy in the Landscapep. 231
Energy for Machines, Tools, and Laborp. 231
Alternatives in Generating Energyp. 232
Tools and Their Energy Sourcesp. 233
Energy Use: Heavy and Self-Propelled Machineryp. 234
Example of Machinery Evaluationp. 235
The Special Role of Mini-Machineryp. 235
Energy Use: Small Power Equipmentp. 237
Energy Use: Hand Tools and Laborp. 240
Energy Use: Transportationp. 241
Summary: Machinery and Tool Energy Guidelinesp. 242
Embodied Energy--Why Do We Care?p. 243
Benefits of Embodied Energy Analysisp. 244
Energy Accounting and Sustainabilityp. 245
Construction Influence on the Energy Futurep. 245
Embodied Energy of Landscape Materialsp. 245
Embodied Energy Estimating Examplep. 246
Understanding the Embodied Energy Tablesp. 247
Not Energy Alonep. 250
Life-Cycle Costing: A Sustainability Toolp. 250
LCC for Better Comparative Costingp. 251
Basic LCCp. 253
Energy LCCp. 254
Monetary LCC Analysisp. 254
Landscape Energy Conservation Guidelinesp. 255
Resourcesp. 257
Energyp. 257
Energy: Site Designp. 257
Machineryp. 257
Operating Energyp. 258
Embodied Energyp. 258
Principle 8. Celebrate Light, Respect Darknessp. 259
Respect the Need for Darknessp. 259
Use Lighting Efficientlyp. 260
Design for Accurate and Appropriate Light Levelsp. 261
Use Sensors and Controllers to Avoid Wasted Lightp. 262
Try Low-Voltage Lighting for Flexibilityp. 262
Don't Overlook Fiber-Optic Lightingp. 263
Use Solar Lightingp. 263
Photovoltaic Design Considerationsp. 265
Package PV Systems: Promise and Problemsp. 266
Street Lightingp. 266
Signage Lightingp. 266
Garden Lightingp. 266
Security Lightingp. 267
Evaluate Lamp Performancep. 267
Resourcesp. 268
Lightingp. 268
Light Pollutionp. 268
Solar Energyp. 268
Solar Lightsp. 268
Principle 9. Quietly Defend Silencep. 269
Be Aware of Damage Caused by Noisep. 269
Don't Rely on Noise "Barriers"p. 270
Wallsp. 270
Bermsp. 270
Vegetation as Sound Barrierp. 270
Make Noise Invisiblep. 271
Fight Noise with Noisep. 271
Protect "Soundscapes" through Planningp. 271
Resourcesp. 272
Acousticsp. 272
Noisep. 272
Noise Controlp. 273
Principle 10. Maintain to Sustainp. 275
Know the Resource Costs of Conventional Landscape Maintenancep. 276
Plan for Maintainable Spacesp. 276
Expect Changep. 278
Use Appropriate Machinery and Fuelsp. 278
Apply Integrated Pest Management to Reduce Pesticide Usep. 280
Use Fertilizers Sustainablyp. 281
Don't Waste On-Site Resourcesp. 281
Adapt to Using Native Plantsp. 282
Evaluate Life-Cycle Costs of Maintenance Optionsp. 283
Coordinate Design, Construction, and Maintenancep. 284
Resourcesp. 285
Maintenancep. 285
Maintenance: Energy Usep. 286
Maintenance: Organic and IPMp. 286
Maintenance: On-Site Wastep. 286
Maintenance: Plantsp. 286
Maintenance: Computers and Coordinationp. 286
Conclusions and Beginningsp. 287
Learning from the Landscape: Themes and Strategiesp. 288
Decentralizep. 288
Coordinate Effortsp. 289
Rely on Resilience Rather than Strengthp. 289
Build for Synergyp. 289
Work from Communityp. 290
Integrate Natural and Man-Built Elementsp. 290
Envision Richer Formsp. 290
Green Design/Construction Educationp. 291
Public Landscapes as Educationp. 292
Thinking One Hundred Years Aheadp. 293
Appendix A. The Hazards and Impacts of Landscape Materialsp. 295
Using This Listp. 295
General Definitionsp. 296
Process Listingsp. 296
Process: Electrical Generation and Transmissionp. 296
Process: Fuel Combustion (engines and industrial)p. 297
Process: Loggingp. 297
Process: Miningp. 297
Process: Petroleum Production and Refiningp. 298
Process: Disposalp. 298
Plastics, Glass, and Rubberp. 298
ABS Plasticp. 298
Acrylic Glazingp. 299
Foam Plastics, Expanded-in-Placep. 299
Fiberglassp. 299
Glassp. 300
Nylonp. 300
Polybutylenep. 300
Polycarbonatep. 300
Polyethylenep. 300
Polypropylenep. 301
Polystyrenep. 301
Polyurethane and Polyisocyanuratep. 301
Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC and CPVC)p. 301
Recycled Plastic Productsp. 302
Rubberp. 302
Coatings, Preservatives, Adhesives, and Additivesp. 302
Additives and Admixturesp. 302
Adhesives (see also products to be glued)p. 303
Caulks and Sealantsp. 303
Paintsp. 304
Oil-Based (also called solvent-based)p. 304
Water-Basedp. 304
Alternativep. 305
Swimming-Pool, Traffic, and Specialtyp. 305
Powder coatingsp. 305
Solderp. 306
Solventsp. 306
Varnishes, Clear Finishes, and Stainsp. 306
Wood Preservativesp. 306
Metalsp. 308
Aluminump. 308
Brassp. 308
Cast Ironp. 308
Copperp. 308
Ironp. 309
Leadp. 309
Steelp. 309
Zincand Galvanizingp. 310
Woodp. 311
Lumberp. 311
Glulam timberp. 311
Plywood and Chipboardsp. 311
Stonep. 311
Cement and Asphaltp. 312
Cement, Concrete, and Mortarp. 312
Asphaltp. 312
Aggregatesp. 313
Sandp. 313
Form-Release Agentsp. 314
Brick, Tile, and Adobep. 314
Brickp. 314
Ceramic Tilep. 315
Adobe (stabilizers)p. 315
Soil Productsp. 315
Perlite and Vermiculite (soil mix)p. 315
Fertilizersp. 316
Appendix B. Limits of Embodied Energy Methods Todayp. 319
Issues in Embodied Energy Researchp. 319
Lack of Comparable Source Datap. 319
Differences in Analytical Methodsp. 319
Political and Historical Obstaclesp. 321
Methods Used in Compiling Embodied Energy Figures for This Bookp. 321
Sourcesp. 321
Proceduresp. 322
Appendix C. Landscape Projects Cited in This Book
Notesp. 327
Indexp. 339