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More Thoughts on Sustainability

Articles: More Thoughts on Sustainability

Whether in our homes, workplaces, private gardens, or public landscapes, the question of sustainable development leads to endless discussions of what the expression really means. Each explanation proffered requires that we establish for a project one or more goals that might help us enhance our stewardship of the planet. In some situations, however, these goals may be at odds with each other.

Two recent projects in San Francisco provide plenty of opportunity for debate on the sustainability question. The California Academy of Sciences unveiled its living roof in 2008, and draws daily crowds to its rooftop viewing platform to see both the native meadow and the wildlife attracted to it. Not far away, Drew School's new vertical garden, just completed in spring 2011, also features California native plants—exclusively—in a three-story planted wall. Designed and planted by Patrick Blanc, the Parisian who introduced vertical gardens to the world, this is the first example of California's native plants used in such a cutting-edge manner—and among the largest vertical gardens in the country.

While such planted roofs and walls may be aesthetically appealing, the water necessary to keep...


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