by Toby Wolf and Nyssa Gyorgy
Sustainable landscape architecture has just taken another stride forward. The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) has released the SITES v2 Rating System, which is the most comprehensive rating system for developing sustainable landscapes. As the LEED program does for buildings, SITES provides guidelines and standards for every stage of a project, from site selection through operation.
The original SITES rating system, which was introduced in 2009, was tested through a two-year pilot program that involved more than 160 projects. SITES v2 is a result of the knowledge gained through this program as well as peer-reviewed literature and case-study precedents. SITES v2 is the first rating system available for public use to pursue certification in sustainable landscapes.
SITES v2 includes a Rating System and a Reference Guide. The Rating System is a free e-document listing prerequisites and credits that are used for measuring site sustainability. The Reference Guide offers additional information for project certification and is available for purchase.
SITES v2 can be applied not only to open spaces but also to new buildings and major renovations. It will be useful to anyone in the design, construction or maintenance fields for landscape projects such as corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses, streetscapes, and residential neighborhoods or private homes.
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.
SITES is currently in negotiations with ASLA, the Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) on the future direction and management of SITES. Under the new collaboration, GBCI would administer project certification and professional credentialing.
Toby Wolf and Nyssa Gyorgy are a principal and the marketing director, respectively, at Wolf Lighthall, a landscape architecture and planning firm in Lincoln, Mass.