Kimley-Horn Landscape Architect Shares Five Steps Toward Sustainability
As Kimley-Horn continues to grow our sustainability vision, we rely on passionate practitioners who have experience and knowledge finding green solutions, utilizing emerging ideas, and promoting environmental resilience. One of these advocates with a wealth of practice educating others about sustainability and promoting green site design is Gary Lai, PLA, ASLA, LEED AP BD+C.
Five Steps Toward Sustainability
Gary has supported sustainability education in a variety of ways, from university education to speaking yearly about sustainable site design, green infrastructure, and environmental equity. He has given presentations on sustainability recently at My Green Building Conference + Expo, an industry gathering hosted by the United States Green Building Council-Los Angeles (USGBC-LA), and the 2022 Net Zero Conference, hosted by the American Society of Landscape Architects-Southern California. Gary has also traveled to multiple Kimley-Horn offices to deliver sustainability presentations for employees. Below are some of his top suggestions for how to move toward sustainability:
- Think and care about sustainability. A mindset poised to consider the most environmentally-friendly options will often drive more actions—but start with passion and prioritizing sustainability first.
- Take small steps of growth. Engage in activities within your control—like recycling, adjusting lawn watering if you live in an area with water conservation concerns, or other practices that are meaningful to you. Taking small steps within your realm of influence can add up over time and hone your sustainability mindset.
- Recognize and promote sustainability. Many people in the AEC industry engage in sustainable practices without recognizing them as being sustainable. For instance, traffic signal timing that keeps cars moving and reduces greenhouse gas emissions is environmentally conscious work. Knowing what sustainability looks like in practice can help you target the most relevant, cost-efficient, and time-saving green efforts to pitch to clients.
- Educate yourself on green practices and challenges. Reading articles, attending seminars, and talking to industry experts further supports the sustainable actions you can take. The more you learn about environmentally friendly practices within your field, the more you can have confidence in offering green solutions to client problems, cross-selling sustainable methods on existing projects, and expanding education in your area of influence.
- Join others to tackle the big issues. Consider joining organizations or industry groups that engage in sustainable design and practices. Since sustainability and carbon emission reduction is interdisciplinary, partnering with others is crucial to ongoing change.
What’s Next for Sustainable Practices?
Gary hopes the next 20 years will result in greater industry engagement with sustainable site practices— such as water conservation, habitat restoration, food desert mitigation, and broader education. He also hopes that engineers will recognize their great influence over sustainable practices and use that influence to engage in emerging industry spaces.
View Kimley-Horn's Recent Sustainable Projects
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