Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia College of Environment and Design was recently ranked first in the nation for landscape architecture sustainable design practices and principles by Design Intelligence magazine. The announcement was made in the 2012 edition of “America’s Best Architecture & Design Schools.”
The college also had three top-five rankings—all in skills assessment categories—in communications, design and research and theory. It ranked sixth in the nation overall for its landscape architecture programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.
There are 53 accredited landscape architecture schools in the U.S.
Licensed landscape architects in the U.S. consider issues of design quality as well as sustainability/climate change to be the profession’s highest priorities, notes the Design Intelligence report.
“UGA’s national rankings of first in sustainable design practices and principles and third in design hold great significance and value for students, alumni and the CED’s reputation,” said Daniel Nadenicek, dean of the College of Environment and Design. “These accolades also complement the award winning Office of Sustainability at UGA and its director Kevin Kirsche.”
According to the national deans’ survey portion of the report, UGA’s landscape architecture undergraduate program ranks fourth in the U.S. by peer education leaders.
“It is imperative that society embrace sustainable design practices as we begin to address challenges created by unprecedented environmental transformation and economic turmoil,” Nadenicek said. “I am very proud that our CED faculty and students are leading the nation in this realm of landscape architecture education. Environmental design at the University of Georgia has an enduring legacy of excellence, and we are glad to be recognized formally by Design Intelligence magazine.”
In recent years, the college has spearheaded a professional degree enhancement initiative for students to graduate with leadership in energy and environmental design or LEED accreditation. Since 2007, the college has offered LEED test preparation as part of its curriculum, which provides graduates a definitive marketing advantage when going into private and public practice.
The sustainability course is now open to all UGA students in addition to those pursing majors within environment and design, and students from ecology, law, business, interior design and public administration have completed the course. To date, 44 students have successfully graduated with LEED AP designation, and 96 have achieved the LEED Green Associate credential. Professional firms say the accreditation is extremely valuable when weighing candidates for hire.
“Innovation and resilience continue to be two of the main motivational factors in the college’s response to current environmental design challenges and economic instability,” Nadenicek said.
Faculty research supports and enhances the sustainability curriculum, and several faculty members, including associate professor Alfie Vick, are recognized authorities on various aspects of green building and sustainable site design. The Sustainable Sites Handbook edited by Meg Calkins and published by Wiley is the official reference publication to complement the Sustainable Sites Initiative Rating System in conjunction with the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden. Vick served as the lead author and assistant professor Jon Calabria was a co-author on the water chapter, which deals with storm water management, rainwater harvesting and wastewater treatment from a sustainable sites perspective.
Alumni of the UGA program have successfully applied the knowledge and experience gained here to careers at the forefront of sustainable site design. This includes positions in landscape architecture and planning firms, government agencies and green building non-profits such as the U.S. Green Building Council, the Center for Neighborhood Technology and the Southface Energy Institute.
The UGA College of Environment and Design is one of the oldest programs of its kind in the U.S. and consistently ranks among the top 10 environment and design schools. The college offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in landscape architecture and graduate degrees in historic preservation and environmental planning. Graduates of the bachelor’s five-year professional program receive an in-depth and cross-disciplinary degree that emphasizes hand and computer graphics, site engineering, horticulture, storm water management and environmental design for sites ranging from residential to public space and regional site planning.