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Google SketchUp Video Animations Explain Basic Sustainable Landscape Design Concepts

The Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air video, one of five new animations from ASLA, explains the importance of trees in urban areas to mitigate the heat island effect. All the videos are geared to the general public and give a basic understanding of sustainable practices of landscape architects.

With funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Society of Landscape Architects has launched five more educational Google SketchUp animations designed to introduce some basic sustainable landscape design concepts to the public. ASLA now has 10 of these animations in its arsenal. They’ve been viewed more than 130,000 times and received press attention from The Atlantic, Fast Company, The Huffington Post and Grist, among others.

The animations, created by Daniel Tal, ASLA, explain how landscape architects use sustainable design approaches to help solve social, environmental and economic challenges.

The five new animations:

Designing Neighborhoods for People and Wildlife video explains how to transform a residential property into a wildlife habitat, spaces where nature can maintain itself without fertilizers or irrigation. Such landscapes are attractive and give urbanites some nature. Also, seeing plants and hearing song birds reduces stress and improves one’s mood.

The Edible City video shows how some conventional communities are using models of some cutting-edge cities to incorporate urban agriculture. Growing food “breaks the law” in many U.S. cities, but some cities are changing regulations to accommodate urban “farmers.” Front and backyards, courtyards in multifamily complexes, abandoned lots and building rooftops are some of the unproductive spaces being used to grow vegetables and fruit.

The Urban Forests = Cleaner, Cooler Air video presents the latest research on air pollution and the urban heat island effect. Research shows significant short-term improvements in air quality in urban areas with a tree canopy.

The Infrastructure video, featured by many leading environmental and design media, argues that we can transform our transportation needs into multiuse infrastructure that serve everyone. The problem is many cities are designed around the transportation systems, a detriment to the inhabitants. Today transportation infrastructure accounts for 20-40 percent of all urban land. With “parklets,” underpass parks, rails-to-trails, and revitalized waterways, cities can take back infrastructure and bring new life to underused, derelict, or even contaminated spaces.

The Energy-Efficient Home Landscapes video demonstrates how smart landscape architecture reduces the energy consumption of a typical suburban home. Showing models based in real science, the animation shows how basic green technologies like smart tree placement and green roofs and walls can dramatically reduce energy use.

Each animation has a companion guide to sustainability education resources designed for students from kindergarten to 12th grade. The resources include hundreds of curricula, games, activity guides and videos to help classrooms explore these ideas.

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