The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is a joint project of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to generate and test a set of guidelines and benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance, much as LEED ratings are given to buildings. Accreditation would be voluntary but would incentivize sustainable development practice for sites both with and without buildings.
After assembling a rating system through the partnership of dozens of sustainability experts and hundreds of organizations, the program selected 175 sites compiled through a call for submissions to serve as pilot projects to test the system. Cultural institutions, educational facilities, transportation corridors, industrial complexes and private residences are all among the list. The Dirt reviews how the ratings will operate:
The SITES rating system includes 15 prerequisites and 51 different credits covering areas such as the initial site selection, water, soil, vegetation, materials, human health and well-being, construction and maintenance – adding up to a 250 point scale. The rating system recognizes levels of achievement by obtaining 40, 50, 60 or 80 percent of available points with one through four stars, respectively.
The program will be vetting and receiving feedback from pilot projects until June 2012 and expects to release the final rating system in 2013.