June 24, 2014
Dear ASLA member,
We are pleased to share the news that ASLA and the University of Texas at Austin (UT) are in negotiations with the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) to establish a collaboration that will ensure the long-term future of the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™). GBCI performs project certification and professional credentialing for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Green Building Rating System. The boards of ASLA and GBCI and UT are committed to the principles underlying the agreement, which include GBCI administration of open project certification and professional credentialing. It is also contemplated that the SITES project will be rebranded. ASLA will continue to be involved in the future direction of the rebranded SITES, will collaborate with GBCI on promotion and advocacy for the program, and will provide related education programming for ASLA members and others.
The involvement of USGBC and GBCI has always been a critical component in the development of SITES. The resources that GBCI offers will most quickly enable SITES to realize its full potential for market transformation. We hope to have a final agreement in place, and to be able to share the start date for open project certification, soon. In the meantime, members can review the revised Rating System to prepare for project certification. The revised Rating System is the culmination of many years of work by a dedicated team of volunteer experts. We are proud of ASLA’s and our members’ contributions to this critical program.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) is an interdisciplinary partnership led by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to transform land development and management practices through the nation’s first voluntary guidelines and rating system for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. The guidelines and rating system represent years of work by dozens of the country’s leading sustainability experts, scientists, and design professionals and incorporate public input from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations to create this essential missing link in green design. Major funding for the Sustainable Sites Initiative is provided by the Meadows Foundation and Landscape Structures.
The Role of Landscapes
Existing design and construction rating systems include little recognition of the benefits of sustainable landscape and site design. While carbon-neutral performance remains the holy grail for green buildings, sustainable landscapes move beyond a do-no-harm approach by sequestering carbon, cleaning the air and water, increasing energy efficiency, restoring habitats, and ultimately giving back through significant economic, social, and environmental benefits never fully measured until now. The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a stakeholder in the Initiative, anticipates incorporating SITES guidelines and performance benchmarks into future versions of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™.
About the Rating System
Modeled after LEED®, the SITES benchmarks and Rating System were published in the Sustainable Sites Initiative Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009. Since then, the Rating System has been tested by over 150 pilot projects, which include educational centers, transportation corridors, industrial complexes, parks, recreation centers, and residences. The prerequisites and credits are currently being updated based on experience gained through the two-year pilot program, and a public comment period.
SITES v2, as revised, the benchmarks include 18 prerequisites and 51 potential credits. Prerequisites and credits cover areas such as the use of greenfields, brownfields or greyfields; materials; soils and vegetation; and construction and maintenance. The revised credits serve as the basis for SITES' move to open enrollment.
The guidelines and performance benchmarks, as well as the rating system, can be used by anyone in the design, construction, and maintenance fields, as well as homeowners, governments, and those who maintain existing green building standards.
As of February 2014, a total of 30 projects have now achieved certification under the 2009 Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009, and an additional 80 projects continue to pursue certification under this rating system. Each of the projects incorporates sustainable features and practices which enabled them to achieve a star rating.
The certified projects are: American University School of International Service
, Washington, D.C., two starsBat Cave Draw and Visitor’s Center
, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, N.M., two starsBlue Hole Regional Park
, Wimberley, TX, one starBrent Elementary Schoolyard Greening
, One Star, Washington, D.C.BWP EcoCampus
, Burbank, CA, one starCharlotte Brody Discovery Garden at Duke University
, Durham, NC, two stars Cleveland’s Public Garden
, Cleveland, three starsCornell University’s Mann Library Entrance
, Ithaca, NY, one starEast Bay Public Plaza
, One Star, Olympia, Washington.George “Doc” Cavalliere Park
, Scottsdale, AZ, three starsGrand Valley State University Student Recreation Fields
, Allendale, MI, two starsThe Green at College Park of the University of Texas at Arlington
, TX, one starHarris County Water Conservation and Improvement District (WCID) 132’s Water Conservation and Demonstration Center
, Houston, TX, one starHunts Point Landing
, an urban park, Bronx, NY, two starsMeadow Lake and the Main Parking Lot at the Morton Arboretum
, Lisle, IL, one starMesa Verde Visitor and Research Center
, Mesa Verde National Park, CO, two starsNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Research Support Facility
, Golden, CO, three starsPete V. Domenici United States Courthouse Sustainable Landscape Renovation
, two stars, Albuquerque, N.M.Phipps’ Center for Sustainable Landscapes
, Pittsburgh, four starsNovus International Inc.
, campus, St. Charles, MO, three starsScenic Hudson Long Dock Park
, Beacon, N.Y., three starsShoemaker Green
, Philadelphia, two starsSquare 80 Plaza at The George Washington University
, one star, Washington, D.C.Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens
, Escondido, CA, one starSWT Design Campus
, St. Louis, two starsTaylor residence
, Kennett Square, PA, three starsTheater Commons and Donnelly Gardens
, Seattle, one starVictoria Garden Mews
, Santa Barbara, CA, two starsWashington Canal Park
, Washington, D.C., three starsWoodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park
, Memphis, TN, one star.
For information visit www.sustainablesites.org