American Society of Landscape Architects releases Resilient Design Guide

Read the guide.

Working with nature — instead of in opposition to it — helps communities become more resilient and come back stronger after disruptive natural events. Long-term resilience is about continuously bouncing back and regenerating. It’s about learning how to cope with the ever-changing “new normal.”

As events become more frequent and intense due to climate change, communities must adapt and redevelop to reduce risks and improve ecological and human health. It’s also time to stop putting communities and infrastructure in high-risk places. And we need to reduce sprawl, which further exacerbates the risks.

Resilient landscape planning and design offers a way forward for communities. We can now use multi-layered systems of protection, with diverse, scalable elements, any one of which can fail safely in the event of a catastrophe.

Many communities have attempted to find a single solution to disasters through heavy-handed infrastructure projects: walls to keep out water, power plants to cool cities. But working with nature to create multi-layered defenses provides several co-benefits.

For example, constructed coastal buffers, made of reefs and sand, can also provide wildlife habitat and recreation opportunities; urban forests made up of diverse species clean the air while reducing the urban heat island effect; and green infrastructure designed to control flooding also provides needed community space and creates jobs.

The goal of resilient landscape planning and design is to retrofit our communities to recover more quickly from extreme events, now and in the future. In an era when disasters can cause traditional, built systems to fail, adaptive, multi-layered systems can maintain their vital functions and are often the more cost-effective and practical solutions.

In an age of rising waters and temperatures and diminishing budgets, the best defenses are adaptive, like nature.

This guide is organized around disruptive events that communities now experience: drought, extreme heat, fire, flooding, landslides, and, importantly, biodiversity loss, which subverts our ability to work with nature.

The guide includes numerous case studies and resources demonstrating multi-benefit systems as well as the small-scale solutions that fit within those. The guide also explains landscape architects’ role in the planning and design teams helping to make communities more resilient.

Job posting: Sustainability Director, City of Detroit

Salary: $128,400.00 – $150,000.00 Annually
Closing date: 12/16/2016 11:59 PM Eastern
For more information and to apply, visit

Description: Responsible for the oversight of the Office of Sustainability, which will include developing the City’s near-term sustainability agenda, tracking progress, engaging external partners, and working with City departments to execute sustainability initiatives. Sustainability efforts in Detroit will focus on strengthening the economic, social and environmental well-being of Detroit’s residents, neighborhoods, and businesses. The Sustainability Office should reflect the needs of Detroiters, deliver projects that make a visible difference in neighborhoods, and better position the City for a more sustainable future.

Examples of Duties

  1. Creates and coordinates the implementation of the City’s sustainability action agenda.
  2. Coordinates standing meeting of Directors and senior staff of relevant departments, including but not limited to Planning and Development, Detroit Water and Sewerage, Department of Neighborhoods, Housing and Revitalization, Public Works, General Services, and Public Health, to coordinate sustainability efforts.
  3. Works with departments to enhance the sustainability of current and future infrastructure investments in Detroit.
  4. Oversees staff and activities within the Office of Sustainability.
  5. Works with City departments to collect data and track progress on sustainability goals and initiatives.
  6. Works with external partners, including non-profits, residents, and businesses, to accelerate the pace and impact of sustainability efforts.
  7. Secures external funding and public-private partnerships to support priority sustainability initiatives.
  8. Communicates sustainability project status milestones to internal departments and external partners through traditional and social media.
  9. Advises the Mayor on sustainability issues and provide regular briefings to Mayor and Group Executives.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, Public Policy, Urban Planning, Environmental Studies, Architecture or a related field of study.  Master’s degree preferred.
  • At least five years of senior management experience in urban sustainability, city administration, management consulting, urban planning, engineering, natural resources or a related field.
  • Equivalent combinations of education and experience may be substituted to meet the education and experience requirements of this position.


Toxin kills thousands of birds along Lake Michigan shoreline

Read the full story from Interlochen Public Radio.

Since 2006, Lake Michigan has seen a steady stream of dead birds washing up on its beaches, and this fall has been exceptionally grim.

Innovating in Foundational Industries: Steel

Read the full post from DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office.

AMO works with steel manufacturers through R&D projects to leverage innovation resources and implement best practices in steel manufacturing. This industry, which has been around for a century, has long played an important role in the U.S. economy.  Today, more than 142,000 people work in steel manufacturing in the U.S. and the industry directly or indirectly supports almost one million U.S. jobs that use steel to make other products for consumers. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, since 1990, the steel industry has reduced energy intensity by 31 percent. Technologies for efficiency improvements are essential tools to compete in an ever expanding global market.

Greenhouse gas emissions intensity of global croplands

Kimberly M. Carlson, James S. Gerber, Nathaniel D. Mueller, Mario Herrero, Graham K. MacDonald, Kate A. Brauman, Petr Havlik, Christine S. O’Connell, Justin A. Johnson, Sassan Saatchi & Paul C. West. “Greenhouse gas emissions intensity of global croplands.” Nature Climate Change
(2016). DOI: 10.1038/nclimate3158

Abstract: Stabilizing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from croplands as agricultural demand grows is a critical component of climate change mitigation. Emissions intensity metrics—including carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per kilocalorie produced (‘production intensity’)—can highlight regions, management practices, and crops as potential foci for mitigation. Yet the spatial and crop-wise distribution of emissions intensity has been uncertain. Here, we develop global crop-specific circa 2000 estimates of GHG emissions and GHG intensity in high spatial detail, reporting the effects of rice paddy management, peatland draining, and nitrogen (N) fertilizer on CH4, CO2 and N2O emissions. Global mean production intensity is 0.16 Mg CO2e M kcal−1, yet certain cropping practices contribute disproportionately to emissions. Peatland drainage (3.7 Mg CO2e M kcal−1)—concentrated in Europe and Indonesia—accounts for 32% of these cropland emissions despite peatlands producing just 1.1% of total crop kilocalories. Methane emissions from rice (0.58 Mg CO2e M kcal-1), a crucial food staple supplying 15% of total crop kilocalories, contribute 48% of cropland emissions, with outsized production intensity in Vietnam. In contrast, N2O emissions from N fertilizer application (0.033 Mg CO2e M kcal−1) generate only 20% of cropland emissions. We find that current total GHG emissions are largely unrelated to production intensity across crops and countries. Climate mitigation policies should therefore be directed to locations where crops have both high emissions and high intensities.

The Clean Power Plan and energy efficiency: where do we go from here?

Read the full post from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy.

As another round of global climate talks has concluded, many observers wonder whether the 2016 election means the end of greenhouse gas regulation in the United States. More specifically, what happens to the Clean Power Plan?

The 10 most sustainable coffee businesses in the United States

Read the full story in GreenBiz.

While most specialty coffee pros obsess over the transformative quality of the world’s favorite drupe, it’s not every day you find a roasting brand equally focused on the environment. And yet some forward-thinking coffee roasters and retailers are asking what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint — for good reason.

Experts tell us that climate change is already beginning to have a substantial impact on the coffee-producing regions of the world. As temperatures rise and weather patterns change, existing coffee lands could decrease in size by as much as 50 percent over the next three decades, say organizations such as Conservation International. As coffee farms move up mountains to escape rising temperatures, the resulting deforestation could exacerbate the problem even more.

Ironically, coffee is one of a number of industries that are aggravating the problem by producing large quantities of greenhouse gas (GHG). A 2012 study (PDF) that followed coffee from Costa Rica to Europe showed that 53 percent of GHGs produced by the coffee industry occur on the roaster side, in cafes, through activities such as heating water, turning on the lights and producing waste in the form of to-go materials.

Science Is Bipartisan Issue, White House Science Adviser Says

Read the full story at EOS.

Holdren said that investing in climate change science and policy measures is good for the economy, national security, and the environment.

The big melt: Sea ice hits record lows at both North and South Poles

Read the full story in the Christian Science Monitor.

Arctic sea ice has been on a consistent decline for years. But until recently, Antarctic sea ice was actually expanding. What’s happening?

The World Unites Behind the Green Economy—Most of It Anyway

Read the full story in Pacific Standard.

As President-elect Donald Trump seeks a quick exit from the Paris Climate Accord, the international community at the COP22 climate summit says the world will go forward regardless.