As the green movement continues its rapid growth, SITES joins with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) to ensure that land, like buildings, are designed, developed, and maintained in sustainable ways that promise to deliver an environmentally positive impact for the world and its people. Land, as a part of the critical building environs, should be developed as healthy functional landscapes, resilient and beneficial to the earth, surrounding communities, and residents.
What is SITES (the Sustainable Sites Initiative)?
The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is an all-inclusive rating system established to alter the current development practices in a more sustainable way to improve the surrounding ecosystems and make projects and landscapes in a more sustainable way. Sites was developed through the concerted efforts of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the United States Botanic Garden, and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas (Austin), SITES exists as a set of voluntary guidelines used by landscape architects, engineers, designers, planners, developers, policy-makers, and other industry professionals to incorporate land development/management with sustainable and inventive design.
SITES is under the direction of Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) and delivers a comprehensive ratings systems for sustainable landscapes which not only measure performance but is also intended to enhance overall value. SITES certification is all-inclusive, and includes locations with or without buildings like open spaces, national and state parks, corporate facilities, educational campuses, military bases, neighborhoods, homes, and much more.
Green Business Certification, Inc. was established in 2008, and since that time has served as the leader in the recognition of excellence in green building practices around the world. GBCI is the sole organization governing project certifications and professional credentialing of SITES, LEED, and other green and global sustainability entities including EDGE, GRESB, Parksmart, PEER, TRUE, and WELL. GBCI is currently accepting both registrations for the SITES AP examination, and applications for SITES v2 project certification.
Always focused on sustainability, SITES guides landscape professionals to guard delicate ecosystems and encourage their benefits for the earth and its inhabitants. SITES sustainable projects focus on conditions unique to each site, based on the research of experts in water, soil, materials, vegetation, and health, with the goal of developing beauty, function, and renewability. The performance based guidelines of SITES promise to reduce energy consumption and water demand, enhance air quality, provide wildlife habitats while improving human health and well-being, and more.
SITES and LEED – A Concerted Effort
The U.S. Green Building Council’s (USBGC) latest iteration of LEED (v4.1) has incorporated relevant SITES content, as SITES has included appropriate LEED content into its SITES v2 system. Like LEED certification for building projects, SITES certification for site location is based on a point system, measured based on performance. The two systems are complementary, whether utilized independently or jointly. Both certifications indicate a project’s commitment to sustainability with the goal of developing buildings and sites which, in turn, create healthier communities worldwide for the betterment of the earth and its people. With SITES and LEED certification, the green building industry transformation and growth continues to encourage environmental and social responsibility which delivers global benefits.