American Society of Civil Engineers

Improving Sustainable Sites through the Use of Native Species to Reduce Water Demand in Landscape Projects

by Angélica Damasceno, (Graduate student, Master degree program, Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais, CEFET-MG, Brazil.), Guilherme Fernandes Marques, (Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, Centro Federal de Educação Tecnológica de Minas Gerais. E-mail:, and Maria Guadalupe Carvalho Fernandes, (Research Biologist, Department of Botanic Garden, Fundação Zoo-Botânica de Belo Horizonte, Brazil.)
Section: Watersheds, pp. 4135-4147, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: World Environmental and Water Resources Congress 2011: Bearing Knowledge for Sustainability
Abstract: Many methods and technologies are available to improve water use efficiency in buildings and also to reduce the total water demand, minimizing environmental impacts during the building’s working life. Given the importance of the landscape design in building sustainability categories such as sustainable sites and water use efficiency, the application of xeriscape techniques with the adoption of native species is a recognized potential solution to reduce water demand, maintenance costs and interference in local surrounding habitats. However, the use of native species is still limited in many urban centers, especially in Brazil given the country’s high biodiversity, mostly due to lack of information and knowledge about the cultivation of these plants, their characteristics, organization in the site and water consumption. This paper reviews and discusses methods and technologies to improve the landscape’s design relative to efficient water use and reduced water demands, including a systematic selection of native species, with development and growth characteristics and water demand for two important tropical biomes: rainforest and savannah. The selection was made through consultation and discussions with a Brazilian Zoo-botanic Foundation biologists and specialized literature, including cross reference with landscaping demands and the practical experience of the professionals involved. Through this work it was possible to consolidate information that was not readily available before, which is useful in guiding the development of water efficient landscape designs and in disseminating the potential use of native species among users and designers.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Sustainable development
Water demand