Landscape Materials and Their Environmental Impact

landscape materialsUHI to pollution that settles in urban regions are not new to municipalities and landscape architects.  Conscious approaches to landscape materials that are not harmful to the environment remains a challenge as cities are redefining their spaces and developmental approaches.  Reducing hazards with alternative approaches offers unique and sustainable opportunities for city progressions. 

It has been found that UHI is formulated by the materials of buildings and pathways.  In a recent study (Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 2015), it was noted that specific types of materials have a dramatic, environmental impact.  Reflective materials are known as the most hazardous.  This causes the heat to bounce off of buildings and is contained, making the heat dramatically increase.  Materials which use large amounts of chemical mixtures, such as polysand in pathway materials, create the same issue with sediment runoff and water erosion that damages cities. 

While there is a pointed issue with landscape materials in relation to the environment, the study also found that the solution is reliant on city analysis and planning.  The issue contrasted based on where the materials were used and what the relationship was to the climate.  The environment and geographical conditions responded less favorably in certain areas.  It was also found that the urban environment and other building characteristics, such as shape, size, etc, also changed the conditions of UHI and the impact of the environment. 

According to the research, there is not a one solution fits all formula for city planning and development.  Instead, it is essential to consider the geography, urban development and the relationship to landscape materials.  Understanding the negative impact of certain elements in the surrounding environment may also lead to positive effects for planning and development.  By starting with analytical methods to urbanization and landscape development, materials which are unified with environmental needs can be used. 

While there is not a one size fits all option for cities, there are also steps which can be taken which dramatically reduce UHI and pollution.  For instance, upgrading pathways to environmentally friendly materials that do not cause UHI and which don’t cause sediment runoff creates new formulas for urban development.  Looking at materials for buildings that are not reflective in nature may also assist with new properties being developed to stabilize cities and begin reducing the impact of environmental hazards. 

As urban planning and development continues, there is the need to have a conscious effort to the materials which are used.  Environmentally friendly approaches are defined with understanding the impact made with architectural ideals.  By using new options for development, there is the ability to begin reducing the environmental footprint and hazards in urban regions.