October 11, 2022


Chicago Botanic Garden



Make a Sustainable IMPACT in Your Environment!

ILCA and the Chicago Botanic Garden have come together to present invigorating sessions on sustainable and ecological landscape practices. The day will also include vendor displays featuring the latest in sustainable products & practices and networking opportunities with those new to sustainable practice and old pros who know the ropes. CEU’s will be available for Landscape Architects!

7:30 – 8:20 a.m.

8:20 – 9:20 a.m.

Creating a Sustainable Urban Oasis: The Meadow at the Old Chicago Post Office

Stan Szwalek, Shawn Weidner, and Ann Weiland, Hoerr Schaudt
Alsdorf Auditorium

Hoerr Schaudt’s design, horticulture, and construction administration team share the process of transforming the rooftop of a desolate, unused industrial building into the nation’s largest private rooftop garden atop a modern workplace. Designed with sustainability in mind, The Meadow sets the standard for how rooftops can restore and protect ecosystems, retain and treat stormwater, reduce local micro-climate temperatures, improve tenant health and well-being, and so much more. Overcoming historic preservation and structural constraints, the success story of The Meadow will continue to inspire for years to come as it redefines how to reposition historic buildings for the future.


9:20 – 10:10 a.m.

Improving Environmental Quality Through Phytoremediation Using Native Plants

Eric Fuselier, Olsson
Alsdorf Auditorium

In this session, you’ll learn about how native plants can be used to improve soil, air, and water quality by removing or transforming common environmental contaminants found in urban, suburban, and rural settings through a process known as phytoremediation. You’ll also learn how to consider the land uses surrounding your next project so that you can select species that will benefit the environment beyond providing habitat for pollinators and wildlife. The contaminants and species covered in this presentation can be applied to residential, commercial, and municipal landscaping projects.

Transitioning Your Company to Eco-friendly Maintenance

Paul Brown, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

It is easy to recognize the shifting winds in business as many clients desire a more sustainable and eco-friendly approach to their yard care.  How can your company act on that desire to create a pollinator-friendly yard while still meeting their needs for a tidy look?  What are the best practices to preserve pollinator eggs over the winter?  How much of an impact will this have on pollinators throughout the year? This presentation will cover the pitfalls to avoid, statistics to remember, and rewarding results of using your business to create an eco-friendlier yard for your clients.

10:10 – 10:20 a.m.

10:20 – 11:10 a.m.

Disrupting a Culture of Scarcity

Nathan Wright, Nathan Wright Landscape Design; Lola Wright, Nuluum

Most organizational settings are run by fear. There is often an underlying fear of “not enough” – not enough time, energy, money, good weather, good labor and on and on—what if that doesn’t have to be true? It is possible to experience an abundance of all you need and experience a culture that matters. Join Nathan and Lola Wright, co-founders of Nathan Wright Landscape Design and Nuluum as they share their vision of a sustainable business that pays people generously to become experts at doing what they love. Their culture commitment prioritizes plant growth and people growth. Join them for a conversation designed to support you in shifting your culture:

* from transaction to trust
* from the push of pain toward the pull of vision
* to realize your team members as your most important clients

Zero Emissions Equipment

Paul Klitzkie, Nature’s Perspective Landscaping

Commercially viable zero emission equipment for the landscape industry is finally here! As in any landscape business, tools and technology are imperative to running efficient operations. Learn about how our company is converting from gasoline power to battery power.  Join Paul Klitzkie and Tom Klitzkie from Nature’s Perspective Landscaping to discuss their journey into zero emission equipment for their landscape business. From past, present, to the future, we will discuss what we have learned and share our process of converting from conventional gasoline powered landscape equipment to zero emission battery powered landscape equipment. We will cover the reasons, process, challenges, and positive achievements we have encountered adopting this new and exciting equipment.

Site Preps: Out With the Old, In With the New

Monica Buckley, Red Stem Native Plants
Design Studio

This will be an open discussion about eliminating existing vegetation in order to give a new native garden the very best chance for success. Also considered will be other important preparatory steps.

11:10 a.m. – 12:10 p.m.
McGinley Pavilion

12:10 – 1:00 p.m.

Planting The New Paradigm

Jeff Lorenz, Refugia

In recent years, the case for ecological approaches to landscape design, implementation, and management has gained visibility on the national level as a viable method of combating climate change, species collapse, and energy and chemical dependent practices. Presently, traditional horticulture and introduced plants and gardening practices pose a poignant threat to managing and preserving native ecosystems and reactivating the land that supports them.

In Refugia’s location in the ‘Garden Capital’ of the US, nurseries, growers, designers, and architects from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland have bounced to the forefront of the ecological landscape movement, creating the opportunity to take native plants and landscapes from a trend to a new paradigm. Landowners now approach Refugia already informed about native plants and ecological practices.

With a turn towards this approach comes the challenge ‘How to keep this new paradigm successful?’ This is achieved with proper management strategies, a knowledgeable work force and seeking consistent opportunities for learning and improvement.

Join Refugia’s Jeff Lorenz to explore innovative methodologies from a practitioner and small business owner’s point of view; using real data, tips and talking points for landscapers seeking to make the shift towards ecological design-build.

1:00 – 1:50 p.m.

Before the First Step, Know Where You Are Walking: Developing a Sustainable Action Plan (SAP)

Mallory Rasky, Scott Byron & Co.; Christian Schloegel, C+I Services; Scott Grams, ILCA

It helps having the will, but it’s even better to have a way. Last year, 12 ILCA member companies embarked on a journey to develop their own Sustainable Action Plans (SAPs). These plans are specifically tailored to their companies, operations, and personnel. The personal nature of an SAP ensures these changes get implemented versus stored in a 3-ring binder on a dusty shelf. Participants from the first SAP cohort will help you understand how an SAP is developed and structured. After that, you can determine if this is the path to enlightenment for your organization.

Native Plant Maintenance

Kasey Eaves, Vivant Gardens

Share with attendees your big wins and burning maintenance and stewardship questions. By pooling our knowledge, we can discover what works in both small and expansive native plantings. Please click HERE to submit your pictures for discussion!

Are We Having Any IMPACT at All?

Mike Nowak, Mike Nowak Show 
Design Studio

Some folks might be aware that the ILCA’s IMPACT Conference is a reincarnation of the annual conference for the Midwest Ecological Landscape Alliance (MELA), which disbanded around 2017. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of MELA. In 2002, those people wondered if they were riding the crest of the horticulture sustainability wave or had, in fact, missed it. 20 years later, two MELA leaders–Co-founder Mike Nowak and Executive Director Carol Becker–wonder if there was a wave at all. They will reflect on this year’s IMPACT conference, where many speakers rightly preach the gospel of native plants, biodiversity and cutting edge ecological practices. But they will also ask if any of that has trickled down to (to coin a phrase) the grassroots. Is the industry simply talking to itself under the cone of silence? What actually has been achieved in the past two decades? What should have happened during that time? Is the message of sustainability reaching the average homeowner? If not (and gardens full of impatiens and hostas and boxwoods and sterile hydrangeas make them suspect that it is not), how can the industry better educate its consumers? How do we get through to people who don’t understand the difference between a native and a non-native plant, let alone the difference between a native and a nativar?  This should be a lively conversation about where we’ve been, where we are, and where we’re going…with the health of the planet hanging in the balance.

1:50 – 2:00 p.m.

2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Unlawning Suburbia: Lessons in the Design, Management, and Activism of Prairie-Inspired Yards

Benjamin Vogt, Monarch Gardens
Alsdorf Auditorium

Over the last several years Benjamin has worked on a variety of lawn-conversion projects, from 2 acres of sown meadow at a university to countless urban front yards. In this diverse presentation, we’ll explore several public and private spaces, how they were designed and implemented, what the management issues have been, and how neighbors (and city code enforcement officers) have responded. This will be a messy discussion, because destabilizing the status quo is inherently complex. Naturalizing lawnscapes takes landscaping to the next level, often becoming an intense and brave collaboration between client, designer, neighbors, and the wildlife that seek refuge where no refuge was before. But there’s nothing more worthwhile than rethinking pretty where we live, work, and play.


Organizer: AnneMarie Drufke

Click here to contact [email protected] for further information about this event.