Sustainability for the Americas

The Land Design Institute (LDI) is expanding faculty and student activities in its first major focus area – sustainability – and building the LDI’s global sustainability network. This includes successful implementation of the network’s first global region network –Sustainability For The Americas (SFTA)-and its first two funded consortia: The US-Brazil Sustainability Consortium (USBSC) and the North American Sustainability, Housing, and Community Consortium (NASHCC).

Ecological Land Research and Cultural Land Research

Current funded ecological land research includes the implementation of an ecological restoration certificate program for university students and practitioners. Faculty are also engaged in research fellowships and funded research projects (in partnership with CERES) to develop resource-balancing land management systems, GIS databases, and ecological footprinting of the Ball State campus.  Faculty are engaged in riverbank access and restoration projects for the White River; design-building of the Minnetrista Cultural Center and Oakhurst Gardens’ Nature Center; sustainable agriculture, biomass and biogas energy research projects, and (with a public school teacher and Oakhurst Gardens personnel) the Second Chance Game for middle school students.  This game includes classroom modules, an outdoor learning lesson, construction experiences at the Oakhurst Gardens Nature Center, and on-going development of a CD-Rom Teacher Development Module. Current funded cultural land research includes a program that develops the therapeutic landscapes dimension of healthcare facilities.  It includes the development of a county-level hiking and biking plan.  It also includes the resource-balancing Second Chance Game that improves middle school student understanding of the land impacts of past, present, and future cultures living in East Central Indiana.
Life Cycle Potential of Flexible-Architecture and Open-Building

The LDI is presently developing a partnership with Ball State’s Building Futures Institute (BFI) to extend the understanding of the resource management and life-cycle benefits of flexible architecture, also referred to as open building.  All national flexible architecture and open-building initiatives, including those at Carnegie-Mellon and Ball State’s Building Futures Institute limit their research to the building itself.  There is a profound need to extend these efforts (as well as conventional approaches to building) to address community-scale issues, and the implication of building to the life-cycles of environmental resources. The EPA and directors of these open-building centers recognize the need for this research, but see this research as outside their research agenda. There is a profound need to develop and communicate this knowledge.