GreenWorks Solves Tough Problems: Climate Change

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Not long ago, during the sharing portion of our Monday morning meeting, several of our staff brought up the recent (and somewhat alarming) Climate Change report released by the United Nations. They posed the question: what can landscape architects do to address problems of this magnitude with our work?

To answer the question, our team is meeting every other week during lunch to discuss topics like:

  • Climate Change

  • Equity/Inclusion

  • Houselessness

  • Resilience

  • Novel Ecosystems

  • Design for Health

  • Universally Accessible and Culturally-Sensitive Design

Led by Associate Principal Jason King, the group is evaluating outside research and resources as it examines one issue each meeting. First seeking to better understand the issue itself, the group then brainstorms how we can contribute to solving the problem at hand through thoughtful landscape architecture and environmental design.

The team kicked off this new initiative with two meetings on climate change and looked at a variety of resources including Drawdown's 100 Solutions to Solve Global Warming. Some of us were surprised to learn that Refrigerant Management sits at the top of the list. While it wasn’t immediately clear how landscape architecture could play a role in refrigerant management, with a little creativity and conversation, we ended up with a number of ideas including tree plantings to reduce building temperature with proximal shade and cooling through leaf transpiration.

From there the group discussed everything from science-based methodology, metrics to measure climate change effectiveness, the pros and cons of sustainability certifications like SITES and LEED, how we can avoid greenwashing and make truly effective design decisions, and the important role of soil.

Action items included looking into collaborations with the research community, developing our own internal calculators for measuring the effectiveness of sustainable design, redefining our GreenWorks sustainability filter, and developing soil restoration plans to include with project specifications. Stay tuned for updates on our progress!

Though the group is excited to discuss other issues in the months ahead, for GreenWorks the conversation about climate change and sustainability is never over—it’s at heart of what we do everyday.

Why? Because as Nancy Somerville said at ASLA this year, “there are many voices and many experts leading the charge on reducing carbon emissions, there are fewer voices and even fewer experts who understand what needs to be done to help communities adapt to the changing climate. This profession has unique knowledge and a profound responsibility to help address the issues of climate adaptation and community resilience.”

GreenWorks Welcomes Landscape Designer Nadja Quiroz

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We are excited to welcome landscape designer Nadja Quiroz to GreenWorks! Nadja is a recent graduate of University of Oregon’s Master of Landscape Architecture program with an interdisciplinary background focused on ecology and environmental issues. Her work is driven by a curiosity for what influences our relationship to the environment, and a desire to repair that relationship.

Nadja comes to GreenWorks with an excitement for public projects—specifically green infrastructural projects, learning and/or play environments, and parks—because of their wide impact on the community. She loves the synergy of collaboration and is skilled at facilitating public involvement, drawing on years of experience working as a peer counselor and youth mentor.

A former ISA-certified arborist and tree inspector with a love of hiking, botanizing, pruning, and foraging for mushrooms, Nadja brings GreenWorks valuable knowledge of trees and plants.

When Nadja’s not working, you might find her making greeting cards, playing board games, or exploring her urban habitat on the hunt for quirky gems, rainbows, and 80s kitsch.

Oak Harbor's Windjammer Park Water Play Area is Under Construction!

Construction is progressing on Windjammer Park for the City of Oak Harbor. The Water Play Area, a central feature of the park is taking shape.  The contractor is applying shotcrete to the rebar and construction cloth forms to create the artificial rock formations in the Water Play Area. The shotcrete will be further sculpted, textured and color added to reflect the natural stone of the area. Water jets within the rock lined channel will imitate surf crashing on the rocks and provide interactive play opportunities. The play area even offers a ship wreck (see the fabrication in process below) complete with water cannons and other interactive spray features.

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Couch Park is Under Construction!

Big things are happening under the beautiful trees at Couch Park this fall. Taking advantage of the lovely October weather we’ve been having, a small GreenWorks crew biked up to the Alphabet District on their lunch break earlier this week to see the latest progress. The stormwater planters and other concrete work is well underway, and the monolithic boulders are a sight to behold. We can’t wait to see the rest of Portland’s first inclusive playground come together in the next few months.

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Progress at Reed's Crossing!

Reed’s Crossing is a master planned community developed by Newland Communities. The community will be constructed over the next 15 years and will comprised of single and multi-family residential, commercial, mixed use and high-density residential development with associated roadways, utilities, stormwater facilities, trails and open space. Reed’s Crossing comm is approximately 460 acres and it is part of the South Hillsboro Community Plan, Hillsboro, Oregon.

For an update on the latest progress at Reed’s Crossing Greenway Park, check out the video below!

Jason King Published at The Nature Of Cities

“Each site we design, as landscape architects, is an opportunity to increase biodiversity as it works in the local bioregion and bolsters local goals, which collectively contribute to tackling that wicked global problem of biodiversity loss.”

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The Nature of Cities Global Roundtable gives Landscape Architects a chance to interpret the word “biodiversity” and discuss how it relates and takes root in their design and work.

“Biodiversity,” according to GreenWorks Landscape Architect and Associate Principal Jason King in his recent essay, “is one of those rare words landscape architects should use often, and with confidence to describe a unique value our profession can add to the world.” More than a buzzword, with applications at both local and global levels, “biodiversity can be a key ingredient in green infrastructure, such as the shift from sedum-specific to more biodiverse green roofs, which amplify what we’re currently doing with a great focus on biodiversity.”

Visit The Nature of Cities to read Jason’s full article and explore what other voices Landscape Architecture have to say about biodiversity.

GreenWorkers Volunteer at Park Tree Inventory Workday

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Recently, employees from our team volunteered with Portland Parks and Recreation’s Urban Forestry department at a Park Tree Inventory workday. Working alongside 30+ other community members at Ed Benedict Community Park, they gathered tree data including location, height, width, DBH, and tree species. This was part of an ongoing tree inventory project that Urban Forestry has been working on to catalog tree data and build an interactive tree map.

Volunteers came across some tricky tree identification including:

  • Oxydendrum arboretum: Sourwood. Look for bright red leaves in fall (now!) and cream colored fruit clusters.

  • Larix occidentalisWestern larch. One of the few deciduous conifers – look for the yellowing needles later this month and in October.

  • Quercus roburEnglish oak. Not to be confused with Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana), the English oak has deep rounded lobes “ear lobes” at the base of each leaf blade.

Portlanders can use this link to see what street trees have already been cataloged in Portland Parks, and can use this link to see what street trees have been cataloged. It’s definitely a helpful tool for anyone practicing their tree identification!

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GreenWorks Staff Present on Integrating Landscape Architecture Into Infrastructure at SAME PDX

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Join GreenWorkers Mike Faha and Jennifer D’Avanzo, along with Jason Kelly of OBEC, on October 11 as they present on the “Successful Integration of Landscape Architecture in Your Infrastructure Project” at SAME’s Continuing Education Fall 2018 Workshop. The workshop will cover the challenges and lessons learned from Reed’s Crossing, as well as other projects.

Note: Ticket sales will support the SAME Portland Post scholarship fund! Space is limited to 10 attendees for each session so get your tickets early! Course attendees will receive 4 Professional Development Hours. Light snacks and beverages will be provided. The cost is $150.