Sustainability low priority for landscape clients, says Palmstead survey

A survey of 100 landscape professionals, garden designers and landscape architects showed less than a fifth of clients (19 per cent) are asking for 'sustainability' to be part of the brief.

Image: HW
Image: HW
The Palmstead Nurseries survey asked participants about their plant choices, their carbon footprint and their clients' knowledge and appetite for sustainability.

Only half of those questioned were using sustainably sourced plants, 23 per cent used recycled concrete and only 39 per cent integrated sustainably sourced water into their builds and designs.

Half of those questioned (51 per cent) felt the industry was on the right track but ‘more could be done’, while a quarter "still didn’t feel sufficiently equipped to know enough about their carbon footprint".

When asked what factors prevented them from planting as much as they'd like sustainably, 80 per cent put it down to the client, with 58 per cent saying the client lacked interest or understanding of the issue and 22 per cent saying it was down to clients' funding or budgets.

When asked who could best affect change, the results were spread evenly between the industry, government and planners, showing that we believe there is a shared responsibility to tackle the issue of creating sustainable designs and schemes.

Palmstead has released the survey to promote its conference "Strictly Sustainable", to be held on 16 September. Dusty Gedge, Noel Farrer, Sue Biggs, Mary Reynolds, Tim O'Hare, Ken Trew and Brita von Schoenaich are all lined up to speak.

Trew, a landscape architect working with Argents on the substantial Kings Cross site, said: "Given the responsibility of the professions within the development and delivery process, it is interesting (and surprising) to see that the survey results suggest that it is the employers who are failing to take action.

"I think that sustainability has become part and parcel of everyday life in 2015. Developers are now well versed in dealing with sustainability. Designers need to be more persuasive about what their clients can achieve - the ball is in their court.

"Landscape architects need to provide excellent case studies, put themselves in the developers shoes and ask ‘what are you suggesting I invest in’ and ‘what is it going to cost me’, be specific about the benefits - that message is sometimes lost.

"The client is waiting to be impressed and designers have potentially more influence than they think they have - they need to tailor presentations to clients and find ways of encouraging them to do things more sustainably and not give up."

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