Environmental Science and Policy
Alex Barron and Dano Weisbord
biodiversity, ecosystem health, landscape management, sustainability, frameworks, environmental metrics, SITES, AASHE
Under the continued development of Smith’s 2040 Landscape Master Plan we see a critical need and opportunity to emphasize the health of the living environment throughout the campus landscape. Smith’s dedication to sustainable practices are commendable but there is great progress to be made, especially within the campus landscape, on becoming a leader in climate action and campus sustainability. Existing design and management practices take this into account, but remain largely anthropocentric. This capstone work seeks to fill a gap in landscape evaluation across Smith’s campus by proposing biodiversity as a quantitative proxy for environmental health. Through our research we analyzed different approaches to landscape management rating systems and frameworks, prioritizing the environment for its own benefit and sustainability. We established consistent metrics to analyze frameworks according to this goal, creating a rating system for the use of the Landscape Master Plan Committee, the design team at the Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects, and key campus stakeholders. The table we developed provides guidance on which frameworks and rating systems best align with the goal of supporting biodiversity–and subsequently ecosystem health– across campus. It also provides guidance on when and where on campus each system is most applicable. Although campus needs will certainly change over time, we hope Smith will place continued value in a campus landscape that is healthy and sustainable in its own right.
©2020 the authors
Abbot, Tess; Aries, Isabel; Drinker, Rachael; and Evantash, Sarah, "Biodiversity in the Campus Landscape: A Meta-Evaluation of Landscape Metrics and Rating Systems" (2020). Capstone, Smith College, Northampton, MA.