8 projects become SITES certified

September 19, 2012 -  By

WASHINGTON— The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has announced eight projects that have achieved certification under the nation’s most comprehensive rating system for  the sustainable design, construction and maintenance of built landscapes. These projects, as part of a group of 150 projects participating in an extensive, two-year pilot program, have applied the SITES guidelines and met the requirements for certification.

The newly certified projects include the Charlotte Brody Discovery Garden at Duke University, Durham, NC; Cleveland’s Public Garden, Cleveland; Cornell University’s Mann Library Entrance in Ithaca, NY; Hunts Point Landing, an urban park in the Bronx, NY; Meadow Lake and the Main Parking Lot at The Morton Arboretum in Lisle, IL; the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens in Escondido, CA; the commercial SWT Design Campus in St. Louis; and the residential Victoria Garden Mews in Santa Barbara, CA.

SITES is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden. SITES was created in 2005 to fill a critical need for guidelines and recognition of sustainable landscapes based on their planning, design, construction and maintenance. The voluntary, national rating system and set of performance benchmarks applies to sites with or without buildings.

“This new group of showplace projects represents a tremendous amount of work toward making the built landscape more sustainable and adding to ecosystem services,” says Holly Shimizu, executive director of the U.S. Botanic Garden.

Since June 2010, pilot projects have been testing the 2009 rating system created by dozens of the country’s leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals. The diverse projects represent various types, sizes and locations as well as stages of development.

The SITES 2009 rating system includes 15 prerequisites and 51 additional, flexible credits to choose from that add up to 250 points. The credits address areas such as soil restoration, use of recycled materials and land maintenance approaches. One through four stars are obtained for achieving 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of those 250 points.

“The pilot program has informed and helped us refine the next iteration of the SITES Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks, which will be published in 2013,” says ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville. “Many additional projects are continuing to work toward certification while we proceed with our preparations for open enrollment next year.”

The eight newly certified projects include two commercial ventures, one residence, one park, three public gardens and one educational institution.  Each project incorporates sustainable features and practices which enabled them to achieve a star rating.“Perhaps the greatest impact of the two-year SITES pilot program has been the tremendous  interest it has created among people who design, create and maintain landscapes of all types and sizes  in creating outdoor spaces that use the benefits of nature—ecosystem services—to benefit people and the environment,” says Susan Rieff, executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.  “Landscape professionals and home gardeners alike are really looking for ways to make what they do sustainable.”

About 80 of the initial 150 projects in the two-year pilot program have indicated they will continue to pursue certification. The draft 2013 credits will be available for public review and comment starting Sept. 26.

LM Staff

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