NASA Teams with Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
NASA has awarded Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center a grant to create a native plant landscape master plan at the Johnson Space Center.
Beginning in September, JSC will be a test site for a new program developed by the Wildflower Center and the American Association of Landscape Architects (ASLA) called Sustainable Landscapes.
During a three-year project, Wildflower Center staff will design a sustainable landscape that supports the culture and values of the local community, improves and restores desired wildlife habitat and contributes to the overall health of the local ecosystem. The master plan will identify and design formal landscape areas at JSC’s Rocket Park, heavily landscaped areas surrounding buildings and areas of adjacent wildflower meadows. “NASA is committed to conduct our programs in the most environmentally conscious manner we can,” said Joel Walker JSC center operations director. “We are delighted to partner with the Wildflower Center in taking ‘green building’ to the next step. We are fortunate to have such a nationally recognized resource in our own back yard and look forward to helping set the standard for the rest of the country.”
“It is fitting that Mrs. Johnson’s vision for a healthy and more beautiful landscape is being carried out at NASA’s Johnson Space Center,” said Susan Rieff, Wildflower Center executive director. “The Sustainable Landscapes project will help set the standard for restoring regional character and the ecological health of North America. We hope this pilot project will inspire other organizations to use native plants in their planned landscapes.”
The landscape rating system and evaluation tool under development by the Wildflower Center and ASLA is similar to the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program (LEED), a rating system primarily for buildings. The results of this pilot project by the Wildflower Center at JSC will assist in the further development of Sustainable Landscape standards.
“All of our new building construction and existing building refurbishments will follow LEED program criteria,” Walker said. “Our goal is to reduce landscape maintenance costs while enhancing biological diversity and wildlife habitat.”
Wildflower Center staff will evaluate landscape design and maintenance programs for long-term sustainability. They will create new design, development and maintenance policies for Rocket Park and other areas of JSC. The care of a native plant landscape often requires specific knowledge and management techniques that are different from traditional commercial practices. As part of the project, the Wildflower Center will conduct training on native plant landscapes for the landscape maintenance staff at JSC.