SITES certifies three new projects

November 27, 2013 -  By

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has certified three new projects that have achieved certification under the nation’s most comprehensive rating system for sustainable landscapes.

The newly certified projects are Shoemaker Green, a university green space in Philadelphia that received two stars; Washington Canal Park in Washington, D.C., which received three stars; and Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes in Pittsburgh, which is the first SITES pilot project to have received the maximum four stars.

The SITES program is a collaboration of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Botanic Garden. The SITES program was created to fill a critical need for development guidelines and recognition of sustainable landscapes based on their planning, design, construction and intended maintenance. This voluntary, national rating system and set of performance benchmarks can be applied to projects on sites with or without buildings.

The new projects join 23 others across the country that have achieved certification since June 2010 as SITES pilot projects. These diverse projects represent landscapes of various sizes, locations, types and costs.

“We are very pleased to announce three new certified projects–particularly the first four-star rating,” said SITES Program Director Danielle Pieranunzi, who is at the Wildflower Center. “Each project has achieved a great deal by demonstrating innovative applications of sustainable land design and development practices while meeting the SITES 2009 criteria.”

As with the other pilot projects at universities, corporate headquarters and other landscapes that have previously achieved this recognition, the newly certified projects applied the SITES “Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009” and met the requirements for pilot certification. The guidelines and rating system were created by dozens of the country’s leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals.

The 2009 SITES rating system for the pilot projects includes 15 prerequisites and 51 additional, flexible credits with assigned numbers of points that total 250. The credits address activities such as soil restoration, use of recycled materials and land maintenance approaches. Projects can achieve ratings of one through four stars by amassing 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of the 250 points.

Based on the experiences of many of the pilot projects, a refined set of guidelines and rating system, SITES v2, is finalized and incorporates added recommendations from technical experts. This enhanced version of the 2009 SITES rating system is ready to be published for distribution and use by the general public.

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