The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) program has updated its sustainable landscapes rating and certification program for use by landscape architects, designers, engineers, architects, developers and others who work in land design and development.
Landscapes are considered sustainable if they reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.
The SITES v2 Rating System and an accompanying Reference Guide provide a set of best practices, performance benchmarks and tools for creating and evaluating sustainable landscapes. SITES recognizes successful projects with certification.
Developed over seven years with input from hundreds of organizations and thousands of professionals, SITES v2 incorporates lessons learned from 100-plus pilot projects that field-tested the 2009 rating system.
SITES v2 resulted from a collaboration among the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects.
The rating system uses progressive industry standards for landscape design and incorporates additional recommendations from technical experts in the fields of soil science, botany and horticulture, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being.
Some of the credits for sustainable landscape performance have been adapted from applicable credits in the LEED Rating System for high-performance green buildings of the US Green Building Council.
Of the more than 100 pilot projects that began testing the interim rating system in 2010, 30 have achieved certification thus far. These include landscape projects at corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private homes.