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Sustainable SITES Releases v2 Standards

by Toby Wolf and Nyssa Gyorgy

The systems that promote and support ecological landscape practices have 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.

Shoemaker Green at University of Pennsylvania, a SITES pilot project certified in 2013.

Shoemaker Green at University of Pennsylvania, a SITES pilot project certified in 2013.

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.

ELA is a Participating Organization in SITES.

About the Authors

Toby Wolf and Nyssa Gyorgy are a Principal and the Marketing Director, respectively, at Wolf Lighthall, a landscape architecture and planning firm in Lincoln, MA. For more information, see