Residential landscapes and eco-design

The question of the positive impact of  building and landscaping practices with relation to renewables is generally discussed when talking about buildings, architecture and energy technology. It has been less of a concern when planning and designing gardens. This post looks at the ideas explored by Howard Liddell, of Gaia Architects, Edinburgh in his book Eco-Minimalism, RIBA Publishing, in particular Shelter Planting and biodiversity.

Liddell writes that " many projects experience , during late cost cutting, the removal of landscape elements once they get towards the end of the site operations. Suddenly, trees and bushes do not get planted because they are seen as "amenity planting", that is, non essential decoration.

However, vegetation (or the lack of it) can have a very significant impact ..... on the energy performance of a building.

Trees and shrubs can shelter buildings from prevailing and chilling winds, with a resultant reduction in heat loss as a benefit.

...of course these items can have amenity value - but with a practical (and calculable) economic benefit, they are less likely to be omitted during belt-tightening  cost exercises."

On biodiversity,  a simple rule and challenge: " The city of Berlin has a 50 per cent rule for new developments, whereby half the built-up footprint of any site has to be biodiverse - it can be "greenscape' (gardens, etc) or 'bluescape" (ponds, etc)."

These proposals can be applied to all of our planning, design and execution of exterior spaces: they remind me of one of the most successful, livable, recent UK developments, Accordia in Cambridge.