WASHINGTON — A new national rating system for sustainable landscape design, construction and maintenance has selected over 150 test sites to participate in a two-year pilot program.
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden, provides voluntary guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable landscapes of all kinds, with or without buildings.
The pilot program marks the next phase of development for SITES by testing out the rating system created by sustainability experts, scientists, and design professionals over the last five years. SITES will receive feedback from the pilot projects until June 2012 to revise the final rating system and reference guide for release in 2013.
Located in 34 states, along with Canada, Iceland and Spain, projects include analyzing data from corporate headquarters, botanical gardens, streetscapes, federal buildings and public parks, that vary in scope from several thousand dollar budgets on less than one acre to multimillion dollar efforts affecting hundreds of acres. These projects will restore habitats, rehabilitate landfills, clean and store storm water, reduce urban heat island effect, create outdoor educational opportunities at schools and reconnect neighborhoods to parks and public transportation.
Pilot sites include the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward Center for Sustainable Engagement and Development, and the Indianapolis Super Bowl Village, site of the 2012 Super Bowl.
“We received hundreds of applications from an impressive array of federal agencies, international companies, major universities and non-profit organizations among many others to participate in the pilot program,” ASLA Executive Vice President and CEO Nancy Somerville says. “The selected projects represent an elite group covering a diverse range of size, project type and geographic location.”
The SITES Rating System includes 15 prerequisites and 51 different credits covering areas such as initial site selection, water, soil, vegetation, materials, human health and well-being, construction and maintenance – all adding up to a 250 point scale. The rating system recognizes various levels of achievement by awarding 40 percent, 50 percent, 60 percent, or 80 percent of available points with one, two, three or four stars, respectively.
Pilot project locations and descriptions can be found at www.sustainablesites.org/pilot