Climate Positive Design – APDW’s commitment for a better tomorrow

“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

We’ve read about the raging fires, melting ice caps, rising seas, hurricanes, droughts and record increase in temperatures. We’ve started to educate ourselves on the the climate crisis. We’ve adopted electric cars, recycled and biodegradable products, and urban gardens – but even so, our built environment remains one of the greatest sources of CO2 emissions (nearly 40%).


Climate change is the design problem of our decade, which is where our responsibility as architects, designers and citizens comes in.

Carbon Dioxide is the chief agent of global warming, trapping solar energy and heating up the planet. The materials we choose today alone account for 11% of the global CO2. The environments we create today are parts of a global ecosystem where everything constructed emits more C02 than can be sequestered by the natural environment. The balance is wildly off – if we can innovate and choose materials that sequester carbon rather than emit it, we could begin to reset the scales.

At APDW, as landscape architects, we are in a unique position to address the natural and constructed environment in our designs. Our goal is to ensure that these conversations and strategies become a de facto part of our process to restore the carbon balance so that we can do our best to rise to the threat of climate change. Through the climate positive design challenge, we have begun steering our designs to become carbon neutral within 5 years.


The process involves research into the EPD’s of materials, understanding what components of the products we use are harmful, what part of the process emits the most C02 and then substituting these products with environmental friendly alternates. Using the pathfinder app, we can calculate how long our projects take to become carbon neutral and accordingly select materials.

Here’s a few highlights of what we’ve learnt so far:

Agricultural Institute Marin:Outdoor Amphitheater_View P3Using eco concrete pavers which uses fly ash as a cement substitute brought our project from 19 years to carbon neutral to 3.Using recycled rubber saves over 300 tons C02 per ton of rubber.Climate Garden Walk_View 17
The Waterfront Park at Alameda Point:perspective 1Adding 17,000 sft of native grasses and wetlands brought the project from 70 to 19 years. Adding biochar to our soil increased carbon sequestration by 50% and can trap carbon for over 100 years preventing its release into the atmosphere.Sized_WFP_Plant-Communities-SectionOur initial studies have proven to us that we can affect change and that a cleaner future doesn’t have to be so far away. Through Climate Positive Design we are attempting to turn the statistics around for better tomorrow. Are you ready to join us? Stay tuned for more!