2024 KCP Application
Land Art Generator Initiative
Primary Project Category:
Secondary Project Category:
Carbon Sinks (Natural & Engineered)
Social & Cultural Pathways
Transport and Mobility
Project Summary / Description:
At the Land Art Generator we work at the intersection of the design and the energy transition to tackle the hard problem of social acceptance of shifting away from fossil fuels. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to post-carbon economies by demonstrating models of renewable energy infrastructure‚ designed in collaboration with communities‚ that provide cultural and social co-benefits. LAGI helps design places for people that share land use with distributed renewable energy generation. Our co-design community solar projects and Solar Mural installations demonstrate the benefit of applying best practices of creative placemaking, urban design, and civic art to new renewable energy projects. Education is a key part of our nonprofit mission. The innovative and artful applications of sustainable technologies spark the imaginations of young people and trigger curiosity in science, technology, engineering, and math. LAGI educational programming provides project-based STEAM learning.
How Project Affects Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions:
The technical challenges to decarbonization are for the most part resolved. We have the technology that we need to get to net-zero. The challenge ahead of us now is social and cultural. Across the world jurisdictions are enacting solar and wind moratoriums. The not-in-my-backyard pushback against renewable energy deployments is quickly becoming the critical path for getting to net-zero. Danny Cullenward, co-author of Making Climate Policy Work, put it this way in a conversation with Ezra Klein last year: "A plausible path to decarbonization, modeled by researchers at Princeton, sees wind and solar spanning up to 590,000 square kilometers‚ which is roughly equal to the land mass of Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Ohio, Rhode Island and Tennessee put together." Access to large, easily permittable greenfields near adequate transmission is dwindling. The more distributed renewable energy infrastructure we can bring into our cities and towns, the less we will need to rely on the large, remote installations that are getting harder to approve. Yet, the standard model of solar energy development does not inspire the public to fight for it with as much passion as is felt by those who are against it. Ground-mounted modules surrounded by barbed wire topped chain link fences and security cameras do not rally people to support massive change. What is needed is a paradigm shift in the approach to the design of energy landscapes, and this is what we are advancing at LAGI.By involving artists, architects, landscape architects, and creatives of all kinds in the co-design of renewable energy projects we are building popular awareness and support for the changes to the built environment that will be the consequence of a 100% renewable energy world. By applying the same development standards to energy projects as we apply to other urban and suburban development projects, we are demonstrating these energy landscapes can add value to public space and provide co-benefits beyond kilowatt-hours. We do this through design competitions, community solar co-design projects, Solar Mural artwork installations, consulting, and educational outreach.After a decade of influence in the design and architecture community, and collaborations with local organizations and institutions, LAGI has demonstrated the possibility of engaging the public in the design and implementation of renewable energy landscapes that provide social co-benefits and that beautify public spaces. LAGI has defined a model and built a global community of creatives dedicated to regenerative design for creative placemaking and art in public spaces. When we have established a net-zero circular economy, new development projects will be designed to pay back the embodied energy in their construction through the clean energy they contributes to the surrounding community. Clean energy technologies, especially solar, have demonstrated their versatility as a finish material for any type of design project. At LAGI we are working to engage designers with this reality and accelerate the trend toward the new regenerative paradigm, while inspiring the public about the beauty of a world beyond carbon.
Impact on Underrepresented Groups:
With project partners around the world we are working together to fight climate change while we also celebrate human culture and creativity. By doing so, we can inspire a more rapid and equitable energy transition, and ensure that the benefits of a post-carbon economy accrue to a broad and diverse community, not just to Wall Street investors. We believe we have the opportunity to usher in a new era of human achievement and social justice powered by an abundance of renewable energy. It is all technically possible, but only if our culture demands that politicians support these efforts. Building a broad coalition to support the massive economic transformation required to meet the challenge of climate change means not only educating the public about the catastrophic consequences of climate inaction, but also illustrating the social and cultural benefits of climate action. LAGI design competitions and co-design projects engage the local community in the process of energy landscape development. From West Virginia coal miners to Maasai women artisans in Kenya; from Willimantic Connecticut to Abu Dhabi UAE; from San Antonio's Westside to the Homewood neighborhood of Pittsburgh; the Land Art Generator collaborates with diverse communities around the world and asks them to be leaders in the design and deployment of energy infrastructures. Our latest policy document, Build Back Solar (Routledge, 2023), points the way to a just energy transition through public investment in community engagement for aggregated utility-scale urban solar development that provides community co-benefits with cooperative private capital.
Research or Economic Modeling
Measurement, Reporting & Validation
The Land Art Generator Initiative works around the world in collaboration with local partners who invite us to engage communities in culturally-responsive renewable energy design processes that result in social co-benefits. We also consult on development projects that seek to creatively integrate renewable energy into the built environment. We are decentralized in this way, with two FTE directors, project managers, a Board of Directors with a range of professional experience and networks within art, energy, academia, and design.