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community assignment

Each student is required to participate in an off-campus activity during the semester. Each student will identify an Open Space Resource (i.e., local park) and a shopping development (i.e., mall, corner shopping center, etc.) in the community and compare the land use practices. The report shall focus on the vegetation coverage, uses of concrete asphalt, drainage, and the use of resources to maintain the properties. The goal of the project is to become familiar with the different land use practices in an urban setting.

  • Select a natural area (e.g., local park, nature center, etc.) near you and visit the location. Take photographs or use Google Earth Street Photographs.
  • Select a shopping center near you and visit the shopping center. You can use a shopping center you visit frequently. Take photographs or Google Earth Street Photographs.
  • The natural area and shopping center should be approximately the size.You can use Google Earth to determine the area of the natural area/park and shopping center (See instructions on Google Earth for obtaining measurements-ruler function).
  • Identify and compare how the following are used at both locations:
    • Energy (identify where energy is used)
    • Solid Waste (how is solid waste disposed of)
    • Water (storm drainage and water use)
  • Determine the approximate area (in square feet) devoted to the following at both locations:
    • Parking Lot
    • Building Footprint
    • Green Space (e.g., grass, shrubs, trees, landscaping, etc.)

You will also need to convert all values to percentages for each location. The approximate area should be presented as a pie graph for comparison purposes.

Answer the following discussion questions:

  • What are the differences between land cover for each site?
  • How is storm water drainage handled at each location?
  • How is energy used at each location (e.g., lights, buildings, etc.)?
  • What are sources for storm water runoff contamination?
  • Summarize the difference between the land use practices.


  • Aerial photographs of both locations (Google Earth can provide jpg of locations)
  • Site photographs from both locations
  • Numerical values of all area calculations (Percentages)
  • Answers to the discussion questions in paragraph form (1-2 pages typed report)

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