Friday, May 6, 2016

Purchase local or indigenous materials

Using locally-produced materials has multiple advantages. It reduces the fossil fuels and associated pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions, required for shipping. It supports local businesses and feeds money into the regional economy. And one of the beauties of landscaping with local materials is that they seem to belong and enhance the region’s unique sense of place.

What constitutes “local” varies to some extent, depending on the type of material. The heavier the material, the more energy it consumes and the more pollutants emitted during transport, and therefore the closer the source should be. The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ recommends the following guidelines:
  • Crushed concrete and other aggregates used as a foundation for paths and driveways should be extracted, recovered, or manufactured within 50 miles of the site
  • Compost and other soil amendments should come from within 50 miles of the site
  • Plants should be grown at a facility within 250 miles of the site
  • All other materials should be extracted, harvested, recovered, and manufactured within 500 miles of the siteExamples of local materials
Local landscape architecture firms which have pursued LEED® certification from the U.S. Green Building Council or follow the Sustainable Sites Initiative criteria have likely conducted research and can recommend local materials. Other potential resources include local nurseries or garden centers.

Stone wall constructed from materials found on-site. Image credit: Philip Hawkins, Wildflower Center staff

Decomposed granite trails at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The d.g. is the by-product of granite mining and comes from a local quarry. Image credit: Heather Venhaus


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