A Deep Dive Into the 2023 ASLA Conference - GBU
Close this search box.

A Deep Dive Into the 2023 ASLA Conference

Brent Clark and Ryan Burnett, Sales Consultants from Green Blue Urban’s North American Operations attended the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) 2023 ScaleUp Conference in Minneapolis, MN at the end of October, 2023. This four-day conference is the largest gathering of Landscape Architects and allied professionals in the world, with more than 6,000 attendees. The conference is designed to bring people together to learn, celebrate, build relationships and strengthen friendships in this incredibly varied professional community. Products and services from over 240 vendors were showcased, including those of GreenBlue Urban. We sat down with these two gentlemen to ask about their ASLA Conference experience.

Q: Fresh back from the upper Midwest from the ASLA 2023 Conference, guys, what was the most exciting part of this event for you?

Brent: I was excited by all the interaction we had with the all the attendees that stopped by to talk about GreenBlue Urban. We got to teach people about what soil is and its purpose, volume capacity, strength, projects our products are currently being implemented into, cost and ROI. We met the Landscape Architect for Cornel University, who told us they prescribe nature to ‘stressed’ students and staff. We talked about ways to improve their methodology. Plus, we got to learn from talking with event participants, in cases of designing beyond the need, and how they fight for a design to be properly implemented. We also learned that timelines from the engineering and utilities maintenance perspectives are much shorter than what is realistic.

Ryan: I enjoyed meeting with attendees from all over the world, including the US/Canada and even the Middle East and discussing the benefits and uses of GreenBlue Urban’s product lines. I met a gentleman from Saudi Arabia at the ASLA. We typically think of our systems being used in urban development for streetscapes and cityscapes. This gentleman said they were going to build a forest in the middle of the desert, which I found very interesting and aggressive.

Q: What were ASLA 2023 attendees most interested in when talking with GreenBlue Urban show representatives at your display booth?

Brent: I found that show goers were really interested in how GreenBlue Urban’s products compared to others in the market space we’re in. We’re always happy to present our product’s advantages, and why we feel they are the best in the business. We cite advantages like our products’ volume and lateral strength, ease of assembly and disassembly, our warranty, improved price points offered based on manufacturing locations, our multiple offices for easy access and the advantages of being a one-stop shop.

Ryan: Like Brent said, the most common statement I heard was, “I know about Brand-X, tell me about the differences in GreenBlue Urban’s product line and why you’re better.” We’re 2-3 times more rigid, have a 30 year vs. 20 year warranty, we are 97% capacity vs 84% capacity of soil, use 100% recycled plastic on all materials, we’re typically 10%-15% less in cost, and we’re manufactured in the USA.

Q: Was there something really innovative that you saw at the ASLA 2023 that just made you say ‘Wow!’?

Brent: I was excited about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and seeing its capabilities around design and information gathering. It’s fascinating in what it can do, and the potential it has to do so much more. I find that it’s a great way to get ideas across, but functionally it takes a lot of input and revisions for it to put thoughts across. But since it gathers information from across the web, it’s a better tool than utilizing older search engines.

Ryan: AI was primarily what made me say “Wow!” too. The evolution of software in our industry as AI gets integrated is going to be amazing! Seeing how it can take generalizations and move it forward to design is very encouraging for development. I can see projects will become a lot more reliant on AI and more precise in detail long-term. But the human element will always be needed for guidance toward the end goal and design.

Q: Gathering with this many in the landscape architect business, what do you feel is the overall consensus of the most pressing issue within the landscape architect industry right now?  

Brent: I heard a lot about sustainability from the people who visited our booth. There are still some major cities that are not fully on board with soil cell inclusion. It’s still a battle for some departments and Landscape Architects to have them installed. We need to keep assisting our industry in showing cities the importance of urban forestry and how GreenBlue Urban’s products can help and lead this process.

Ryan: I heard more about the need for cities to require and enforce urban tree development. This was most likely due to the product lines we had on display. For example, Nashville, TN has very strict requirements for tree placement in all of their downtown areas. Any new development is required to meet strict codes on soil volume and spacing of trees. If sidewalks are part of their designs, trees are required to be integrated within the design.

Q: Did you have time to tour the city and see how Minneapolis and their public spaces balance nature and the built urban environment? With the city filled with over 5,000 landscape architect industry folks, I’m sure everyone has their thoughts.

Brent: On my way to the Airport, I did a quick trip to the river way and had an opportunity to see the city from that point of view. I feel there is a lot of potential for Urban Forestry and the installation of large urban trees that would really enhance the city’s environment.

Ryan: Minneapolis is a very industrial town. I did not see very much urban development. There are also a lot of older historic buildings from the early 1900’s, so naturally the areas I saw lacked the kind of urban development I think the city would benefit from.

Q: After being back from ASLA 2023, what are your overall take-aways from the event?

Brent: Attending the ASLA Convention helps keep us on top of trends and stay in front of designers. We’re doing a great job of getting feedback from contractors and designers alike. And we need to keep in mind that students are our future clients, and many will have influence in our industry in the next 5-10 years and beyond.

Ryan: There were a lot of event participants interested in what we’re all about. Our industry will continue to grow, and with it, GreenBlue Urban will too. I believe that non-compacted soil and modular paving support systems are an intricate part of construction and will become a preferred solution over structured soil. If you look at GreenBlue Urban and realize we’ve only truly been in the USA for about 8 years, we have a very good industry footprint for such a short time frame.

To learn more about GreenBlue Urban’s product line and environmental philosophies, please visit www.greenblue.com/ce/