The Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) has initiated a public comment period for revisions to the 2009 Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks, the underlying document for the most comprehensive set of voluntary, national guidelines ever developed for sustainable landscapes. Performance, which is measured by the benchmarks, serve as the basis for certifying the SITES pilot projects, 11 of which have achieved that goal. Many more continue to pursue this distinction.
The proposed 2013 credits integrate feedback from the pilot program, which serves as the basis for SITES to move to open certification in mid-2013. This feedback, in the form of an update, is available for download online.
The Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 is the third report from the Initiative – a partnership between 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 create a system to evaluate sustainable landscape design, construction and maintenance. The U.S. Green Building Council is a stakeholder in the Initiative and anticipates incorporating SITES metrics into future versions of the LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System.
“As we move closer to the open marketplace, we are very grateful to the pilot projects for the rigor and openness with which they are documenting sustainable landscape practices as they pursue certification,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “Their feedback has provided the basis for these revisions and ensures the integrity of the SITES 2013 Reference Guide.”
SITES staff and more than three dozen technical advisors in hydrology, vegetation, soils, materials and human health and well being contributed thousands of hours to ensure the credits could apply to any landscape, with or without buildings.
“This Initiative is for all those who design, construct or maintain our outdoor landscapes,” said Susan Rieff, Executive Director of the Wildflower Center. “If we follow these directions we can create compelling landscapes that actually mitigate environmental harm – making our communities better places to live.”
“We are asking all industry professionals and interested parties to participate in this public comment period to ensure the quality and applicability of the revised guidelines,” said Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the United States Botanic Garden. “The guidelines will raise public expectations about the essential value that the built landscape can provide if done sustainably.”
Responses from this public call for comments will also inform the 2013 iteration of the reference guide, which will be released in mid-2013.
An online form is available to provide feedback. The public comment period is open until November 5, 2012.