October 02, 2012
This past weekend was the ASLA Conference, and Nathan Benjamin was lucky enough to address the largest gathering of Landscape Architects in the world. It was a unique chance to take the pulse, and to map out the future of the field. Among the distinguished speakers were Chris DeVolder of 360 Architects, Tobiah Horton of Rutgers University, and Erin Kelly of Next Energy.
Nathan's presentation focused on the roadblocks and misperceptions regarding using reclaimed building materials in commercial and residential projects. He discussed the cost effectiveness, both financial and environmental, of reusing everything from hardwood floors to bricks to stone. Today, 40 percent of landfill waste comes from building construction and demolition. Construction and demolition waste contributes 100 Million tons to US landfill waste annually. This means that every year we trash and bury the equivalent of 273 Empire State Buildings.
Landfills are filling up fast
But there's hope. Nathan presented an alternative to buying new, one in which building materials are recycled into sustainable, polished projects that are good for the bottom line and for the planet. Those building or renovating would think "used" before "new" and those demolishing would think "reuse center" before "trashcan." The ASLA Conference was a great opportunity to connect as an industry, showcase best practices, and present a blueprint for a more sustainable future.