Access to Nature Improves Social Equity, the Economy, and Our Environment
There may be no greater benefit to a child – or any of us – than having ready access to nature. We can get that in our garden, but it is not a must as long as we can get a good dose of greenery as we walk and wander our communities.
What I’d like to do, is show you a thousand pictures of my 7 year old son playing in his native yard. Watching him reminds me daily of how sustainable landscapes impact equity, economy and environment. I’m gonna nix the picture show, cuz it’s way more than 3 minutes plus the kid is half naked in most of them. I’ll go the harder route and try to put this into words: There may be no greater benefit to a child – or any of us – than having ready access to nature.
As green building leaders in Los Angeles, we can increase the health and wellbeing of all LA’s kids, all Angelenos, save families and the city money, all while mitigating climate change, drought and even fire. To do it, we need to start seeing the unseen. Spaces between buildings. These spaces can provide:
- A view of greenery through a window that improves academic achievement and reduces stress!
- Chemical-free sustainable landscapes that reduce allergies and asthma.
- Healthier eating and lifestyles that encourage movement.
We have huge inequity in how much nature kids can access. The places where kids could benefit most from nature is where we have the least.
Luckily, kids don’t need a ½ acre backyard. School gardens provide the greatest benefit, and it’s where they spend most of their time. Lush, leafy, chemical-free school gardens also improve the property values of the surrounding community.
There are so many ways ample, sustainable landscapes benefit family finances and the ECONOMY.
By replacing your traditional lawn with an authentic one, in less than 10 years, the savings can amount to a college tuition.
When we take a step back, the economic benefits just grow. We are truly accepting a tragedy in our commons where we could be capturing treasure. Here, you may know the numbers, so I’ll just ask:
- How many more people would be out shopping our Main Streets if extensive tree canopy meant they were 20 degrees cooler?
- Where would we put our tax dollars if LA achieved water independence?
- Who would be saved if wildfires came once a decade instead of once a year?
The answers are just the start of the economic benefits we can generate if we build ample, authentic green spaces.
These spaces can radically improve the impact of our city on the ENVIRONMENT as well. Integrating landscapes, defined by the SITES initiative, improve a development’s performance in every LEED category. Bottom line is:
- Climate change is ours to solve. Buildings are still the #1 carbon emission contributor, even here in LA. Landscapes eat carbon.
- Our oceans and groundwater tables are polluted. Clean, chemical free landscapes clean water.
- Our air could be cleaner. Plants help with that too.
A city with ample, lush, leafy, authentic foliage pumps in what we need to thrive.
When my son is my age (and maybe more often clothed, than not), I imagine an LA that feels more like nature is wherever he is.