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Sustainable Sites Initiative Rates Landscaping Sustainability

landscapingCorporate campuses and other commercial sites can turn to a new rating system to help design more sustainable and environmentally friendly landscapes.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative has released a system for rating landscapes as they are created. While the system is likely to see more use in the beginning from public parks and recreation areas, the ratings were designed to apply to any landscaping project, from corporate campuses to transportation corridors to family residences, said Amy Kapp, spokeswoman for the National Recreation and Parks Association.

Any project larger than 2,000 square feet can apply for a ranking, Kapp said.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is guided by the principle that landscaping should not only conserve but also contribute to regenerating resources in developed landscapes, according to a press release.

“It is not merely the principle of doing no harm, but rather the desire to look at how we can turn the effects of every human change that we make to the landscape into net benefits to the environment,” said Rich Dolesh, Chief Public Policy Officer of NRPA, and a member of the Steering Committee of the Sustainable Sites Initiative since its inception in 2006

The system provides a ranking of up to 250 points based on 51 separate metrics, such as site selection, soils, vegetation, restoration of disturbed sites, recycling of materials and use of sustainable construction methods.

The system is applicable not only after construction and landscaping have been completed, but is designed to provide a continuous cycle of assessment and evaluation.

A small grant program will support 75 to 150 projects chosen for a two-year pilot.

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