Sustainable Sites Initiative Wins Green Business Award

The Sustainable Sites Initiative won Washington Business Journal’s Green Business Award for education / outreach. The Sustainable Sites Initiative will create the first rating guidelines and performance benchmarks for eco-friendly landscapes, offering guidance on sustainable best practices for all open spaces. The Initiative is led by a coalition of three organizations: the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and U.S. Botanic Garden. The final draft of the new standards will be released November 5 at an event at the U.S. Botanic Garden. A call for pilot projects will also be issued at the release event.  

The Initiative will work as a stand-alone rating system, and also be incorporated into the LEED® Green Building Rating System™ by 2011. By integrating into LEED, the Initiative can make “a deeper mark on architects, engineers, designers, curators, landscape contractors, maintenance workers, planners and even homeowners as they move soil for new parks, gardens, yards, easements and other open spaces in the most environmentally harmless way,” writes Washington Business Journal.

The new rating system will cover a range of landscape elements that can have a positive environmental impact. Sustainable landscapes can yield environmental, social, and economic benefits through C02 emission reductions, lower temperatures, waste reduction, and water conservation and efficiency. “There’s little limit on the elements these standards examine — sustainable nursery practices, preference for native plants, low-impact materials, permeable pavements, vegetation-based water treatment, lack of pesticides, healthy soils. Opting for eco-friendly incarnations of all of the above can remove millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere, lower peak temperatures by several degrees in summer months, prevent millions of tons of yard waste from dirtying nearby waterways and stop billions of gallons of water from being wasted every day.”

A call for pilot projects opens November 5 and ends February 15, 2010. Any type of designed landscape is eligible to participate, ranging from academic and corporate campuses, parks and recreation areas, transportation corridors to single residences so long as the total size exceeds 2,000 square feet. Fees for participating in the pilot project process may run between $500 to $5,000 depending on project size. Approximately 75 to 150 projects will take part in testing the rating system.

Go to the Sustainable Sites Iniative to sign-up for e-mail notifications about the report release and pilot projects.

Also, check out the current set of 17 Sustainable Sites Initiative case studies. Case study projects were estimated to cost from $16,500 to $207 million, demonstrating the range of projects that can benefit from this rating system.

Image credit: Sustainable Sites Initiative / Conservation Design Forum

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