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Determining the 'Performance Benefits' of Beautiful Landscapes

Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

USU LAEP research team

The team of researchers from USU's Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department. (left to right) Faculty member Bo Yang, program alum Pamela Blackmore, and graduate student Chris Binder.

Beautiful landscapes are important to the built environment, but the performance benefitsof those beautiful landscapes are less well known to non-landscape architects, according to Bo Yang.

Yang, an assistant professor in the Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning at Utah State University, along with Pamela Blackmore, an alumna of the program, and Chris Binder, a current graduate student, demonstrated these benefits through quantitative ways in a recent case study investigation (or CSI) with the Landscape Architecture Foundation.

CSIs give student and faculty research teams an opportunity to work with landscape design firms and analyze high-performing landscape design projects. The USU team is one of ten research teams nationally selected for funding and has worked with the Design Workshop, a renowned multidisciplinary firm with several regional offices, for the past three years on ten separate CSI projects.

“We are the only university who partnered with the Landscape Architecture Foundation all three years,” Yang said.

In its 2013 research, the team analyzed landscape performance benefits of three residential projects in Colorado. In one of the residential projects a landscape buffer was designed to screen undesirable views of an adjacent roadway. In another project, careful placement of multi-layered vegetation was done to achieve comfortable outdoor conditions.

To evaluate to what extent these design strategies are effective, the research team conducted an extensive vegetation composition survey and measured wind speed, temperature and relative humidity.

In early 2013, the LAF called for a proposal to evaluate CSI projects’ efficacy in demonstrating landscape performance, and USUwas chosen as the lead institution to conduct the research, in partnership with Temple University and Kansas State University.

Yang recently presented his preliminary findings to theLAF Board of Directors in Boston, Mass. on Nov. 13.

Related links:
USU’s Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning Department

USU College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences

Contact: Tiffany Adams, (435) 797-7406,

Writer: McCarty Hatfield,

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