Designing Our Landscapes for the Future
Turning Traditional into Sustainable

In recent years, wellness and sustainability have come to the forefront of design.  As the concerns about our planet continue to rise, the impact of our landscaping practices become more and more important.  

Sustainable landscape design is just as important as the wellness design practices we focus on inside of buildings, especially when it comes to the long-term sustainability of our planet. 

Traditional landscaping tends to waste fossil fuels, water, energy and money.  Chemicals from artificial fertilizers leak into the soil wreaking havoc on our ground water.  Large areas of turf, pruned bushes, trees and flower beds require a substantial amount of water and other resources to maintain.  Sustainable landscape design principles include things such as choosing low maintenance drought free plant life, recycling water runoff and selecting plants native to the area.  In terms of maintenance, this includes leaving lawn clippings from mowing and reusing landscape debris for compost to fertilize the soil.  Placing plant life with similar water requirements together can also prevent water waste.  Green infrastructure can help with water runoff, improve air and water quality and create a healthier and aesthetically pleasing atmosphere.  

Another important element to sustainable landscape design is biodiversity, which focuses on all life on earth, from genes and ecosystems to humans.  For humans this involves the use of food, fuel, shelter and medicine.  For the ecosystem, this includes pollination, seeds, water usage and nutrient cycling, all of which are interconnected.  Hedgerows, gardens, linear woodlands, cover crops, meadows and trees have a substantial impact on biodiversity because they provide for our wildlife and pollination.  Replacing vast areas of lawn with these things can have a great impact on biodiversity.  The intentional variety that exists with biodiversity contributes to the cycle of all life.  Landscape design that focuses on green infrastructure instead of artificial, native vegetation, reserving resources, lowering costs and providing a space for the building’s occupants to connect with nature will make it sustainable.    

While we may not always be able to control what humans do to our environment, we do have the ability to control how our terrain affects it.  And, by focusing on giving to our planet, we can change its trajectory.  

Interested in reading more about sustainable landscaping? Check out Floret and this documentary from the Magnolia Network which follows their journey and the transformation of their flower farm in order to expand their growing ground and create a living laboratory. 



 As our new Board term started, we kicked it off with the Board of Directors annual fall board retreat in late July for two full days. During this time, we focused on team building, performing a SWOT analysis, assessing all past, present and future chapter programs and offerings, and created our 2021-2022 Strategic Plan which will help guide us in our initiatives during the current term and beyond. Here are some of the items that our chapter is focusing on during the 2021-2022 term:

  •  Launch a new chapter website with a brand new look, functionality, tools and so much more
  • Create a new Board of Directors position that will specifically focus on equity, diversity & inclusion
  • Re-envision the Chapter’s Education Fund and its offerings - this includes creating a new fundraising program to provide assistance to those with extra limited resources, facing diversity issues, and much more
  • Create a new mentorship program that will specifically focus on the transition from student member to associate member to continue to help individuals progress in their professional journey
  • Share more advocacy tools and updates with the chapter and provide ways that everyone can get involved in making a change
  • Create a task force specifically designed to target the K-12 market and how we can continue to advocate for the profession as a whole
  • Continue to engage the Hartford and Providence City Centers as well as employ new ways to engage the northern states within the Chapter’s region
The Board meets monthly and reviews the plan to assess progress, resources needed, measurable goals, etc. Stay tuned for updates throughout the term on these exciting ventures. Be sure to watch our committee openings page for ways you can get involved!

We plan to continue with in-person and virtual programming throughout 2021-2022. We will continue to monitor CDC and state guidelines and will adjust our events as needed; as the health and safety of our members and community is most important. Please be sure to check out our Chapter’s Event Calendar to see each event’s page for the full details. Looking for ways to support these events and our chapter? Be on the lookout for our chapter sponsorship drive kicking off in November to support our 2022 programing or reach out to our VP of Sponsorship Amelia Papadakis with questions!

Be sure to check in with the IIDA New England calendar for upcoming events (both virtual and in-person) offered in our community. Here's a sneak peek at some upcoming events:

Also, be sure to keep an eye on our IIDA New England job postings, which are updated regularly!


 Check out the list of IIDA New England Emerging Leaders Class of 2021!

Do you have an idea that you would like to share with the design community or see highlighted here in The Wire? Send your ideas to [email protected]