Designing sites and outdoor areas for sustainability and then “building it right the first time” may seem like no-brainer goals for site development or ecological restoration, but that doesn’t mean that it is being done on most projects, much less being done well. Why is that? There are many reasons, but one standout that we have identified after 30 years of professional practice is the lack of a truly interdisciplinary or integrated team approach. Clients benefit from having their entire professional design and development team at the table, as equals – this provides opportunities for creativity, innovation and problem-solving. And when the group is truly committed to collaboration and efficiency, integrated teaming will likely save big on construction and long-term maintenance costs.
Studioverde’s Lisa Cowan is working with the Association of State Wetland Managers (ASWM) to promote better interdisciplinary partnerships between landscape architects and wetland professionals. Marla Stelk, Policy Analyst, ASWM, penned this article based on her collaboration with Lisa about the challenges facing the wetland restoration community with improving project performance. Although wetland restoration might not seem like something that directly applies to more traditional site development projects, many of the principles and methodologies used for wetland and ecological restoration also apply to sustainable site development, green infrastructure and high performance landscapes. It takes expertise, experience and a willingness to take a fresh look at traditional site development practices to reap the three “P’s” of sustainability – good for people, planet and profit – something that we practice on a day-to-day basis at Studioverde.