For its new headquarters at Michoud, the US Coast Guard sought to create a LEED certified project that would include a sustainable, regenerative native landscape. The design utilizes 100% native species to create an authentic Cajun prairie environment. Because of its employment of native species and strategic placement of bioswales, the project requires no irrigation and minimal maintenance over time. It will be constructed at a cost comparable to that of traditional, less sustainable landscape designs. Eight of the project’s LEED points will be achieved by the landscape design alone, allowing for the possibility of achieving LEED Silver status.
The design has two distinct elements: a more formalized design immediately surrounding and leading up to the building and a less controlled native landscape in the open, non-programmed areas. Approaching the building, precisely-spaced trees are interspersed within well-manicured sections, creating a formal thoroughfare for entry to the building. The more remote areas of the site are also designed for low maintenance, but in a less formal manner. It is inspired by Wooded Savannas found throughout the Southeast. Prairie and savanna plant ecosystems are the most adaptable plant systems for the region and are able to withstand harsh conditions such as drought and flood. While these landscapes occur naturally throughout Louisiana, they are some of the most threatened ecosystems in the state. The creation of a native prairie and savanna ecosystem will restore critical habitat and food sources for a variety of butterflies, endangered songbirds, and beneficial insects.