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First projects certified by SITES national rating system for sustainable landscapes
By Brianna Crandall, January 27, 2012—The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has announced the first three projects to be certified by the nation's most comprehensive system for rating the sustainable design, construction and maintenance of built landscapes.
The corporate headquarters of an international manufacturing company, a new university green space and a children's playground in an urban park are the first to be recognized for their sustainable land practices from among 150-plus pilot projects that began the certification process in summer 2010. These initial projects are the St. Charles, Missouri, campus of Novus International, Inc.; the Green at College Park of the University of Texas at Arlington; and the Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee.
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. The program was created to fill a critical need for guidelines and recognition of green landscapes based on their planning, design, construction and maintenance. The partners have collaborated since 2005 in developing a voluntary, national rating system and set of performance benchmarks for sustainable landscapes in areas with or without buildings.
Facilities owners and managers and others who are seeking inspiration and guidance in this area can utilize the resources on the SITES Web site to learn more about the benefits of sustainable landscaping and such areas of focus as hydrology, soils, vegetation, materials, and human health and well-being.
The certified pilot projects are participating in a pilot program begun in June 2010 to test the four-star rating system created by dozens of the country's leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals. Projects selected to be pilots are at various stages of development and represent a diverse mix of project types, sizes, locations and budgets.
The SITES rating system includes 15 prerequisites and 51 additional, flexible credits to choose from. The credit options, totaling 250 points, address areas such as the use of redeveloping brownfields or grayfields; soil restoration; water conservation; use of recycled materials and native vegetation; and sustainable construction and land maintenance approaches.
Certified pilot projects are recognized with one through four stars for obtaining 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of those 250 points. The Novus headquarters, the Green at College Park, and Woodland Discovery Playground SITES certified projects received a 3-star, 1-star, and 1-star rating respectively.
The St. Charles, Missouri, campus of Novus International, Inc.
The Green at College Park of the University of Texas at Arlington
The Woodland Discovery Playground at Shelby Farms Park in Memphis, Tennessee
SITES will continue to receive feedback from the SITES Certified Pilots and the remaining pilot projects until June 2012. These projects include private residences, streetscapes, industrial complexes and other settings. Their input as well as the public's will be used to finalize the rating system and reference guide, expected to be released widely in 2013.