Building The Future Together

Hosted by Sustainable Building Solutions™ and Hunzinger Construction Company, the Green Building Conference is an annual event that showcases key topics of interest pertaining to sustainable construction. This year’s conference will be held on April 30th from 7:15 AM to 10:15 AM and is also sponsored by Environmental Systems, Inc. (ESI) and InPro Corporation.

Tom Mortensen, RLA, ASLA, Site Planner and Registered Landscape Architect with R.A. Smith National, Inc. is a featured speaker.  His session is entitled “Nature Ignores Design That Ignores Nature” and it is about water.  His talk will help attendees better understand the relationship between the landscape architect, civil engineer, community members, municipality, architect and the client as it pertains to expectations, aesthetic tolerances, design methods, restrictive and prescriptive ordinances and design standards when applied to using the landscape to integrate rainfall through collaborative site planning methods.

We asked Tom to share his perspective and why sustainability is so important to him.  

I struggle with the word “sustainability”, Tom reflected, “I think it has become overused and misused as a catch-all word, and sometimes approaches meaningless greenwashing. When my vinyl covered, spiraled weekly planner claims to be sustainable, I think it has gone too far.”

“Sustainability is very tribal. It means many different things to different people. Just type in the word “sustainability” on YouTube and you’ll see what I mean.”

“Instead, I prefer to say we can do things that are “less non-sustainable” and that have lessened impacts, and are more logically efficient, because nothing that we do as humans can be completely and truly sustainable. Even early humans and nomadic tribes would deplete resources in an area and then move on. That’s what humans do.”

“My interest and passion for using less non-sustainable design practices and methods lies in the area of site planning and rain water integration. We’ve all been trained to treat it like a waste product rather than a free resource. I prefer to think differently about how to integrate rainfall onto a site using ideas that are rooted in natural systems that make sense, rather than relying on highly engineered, expensive systems, outdated design protocols and mandated ordinances that usually only delay inevitable failure”, Tom concluded.

Tom has over thirty years of experience in the landscape architecture, site design and construction professions. Throughout his career, he has been involved with municipal projects, park and open space planning, urban redevelopment projects, memorials, public plazas, lifestyle centers and destinations, rooftop terraces as well as commercial and residential property development.  Some of his projects include Cabela’s, Lambeau Field Renovation, Summerfest, State and County Parks, the US Forest Service and the Veteran’s Administration. He has designed major projects throughout the US for national retailers and land development companies.  He mentors and manages a group of landscape architects at RA Smith National that collaborate with architects, developers, municipal clients, civil engineers, surveyors, hydrologists, ecologists and 3D visualization specialists.

To hear more from Tom and his unique perspective on site planning and water, sign up today for our Annual Green Building Conference to be held April 30th from 7:15 A.M. to 10:15 A.M. at the Hunzinger University Building, 21050 Enterprise Avenue, Brookfield, WI. Registration will be limited to the first 200 applicants, so don’t hesitate and sign up now!