SITES - The Sustainable Sites Initiative

    The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an interdisciplinary effort by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices.

    The goal of SITES is to create a National Standard which will guide those who want to create sustainable landscapes. The SITES Initiative is similar to LEED, but focuses specifically on landscapes. A key difference between LEED & SITES is the "landscapes are unique in that they also have the additional capacity to enhance and regenerate natural resources".

    SITES certification includes 18 prerequisites and 48 credits for measuring site sustainability. To achieve certification, projects can earn a total of up to 200 points at the Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum levels. The rating system is divided into ten sections, which cover site context, design and construction, operations, maintenance, education and innovation. These strategies cover both pre-design and construction activities and are tied together through an integrative process.

    There are four levels of certification:

    Level                            Points Earned

    SITES Certified - - - - 70-84

    SITES Silver - - - - - - 85-99

    SITES Gold - - - - - -  100-134

    SITES Platinum - - - - 135-200


    To learn more about the SITES Rating System

    To learn how to become a SITES AP

    To view the current list of Certified SITES projects

    To view the current list of individuals who have earned the SITES AP credential:        



    The OCASLA worked with URS on the Cleveland Botanical Gardens SITES project. The Cleveland Botanical Garden was one of 3 Pilot projects for the Sustainable Sites Initiative in Northeast Ohio. The goal of the Botanical Garden was to obtain a total of 158 points to become a 3 Star SITES Certified project.

    At two acres, the Woodland Garden and Demonstration Garden are the Cleveland Botanical Garden's largest outdoor displays. They are host to predominantly native plants found in wooded areas in the Northeast U.S. Given their sizes, ravine topography and diversity in plantings both spaces provides a true sense of a natural get-away. There are three distinct habitats: beech-maple-hemlock forest, mixed mesophytic woods and wooded flood plain. Among its woody and herbaceous plants are rescued wildflowers, which might otherwise have been lost to development.

    In addition to being a completely inventoried showcase for the natural beauty of our region, the Woodland Garden serves environmental conservation purposes and is important to the watershed. Planned enhancements to this garden include a new rain garden, additional stormwater management elements, and rehabilitating the riparian corridor. A tributary of Doan Brook runs through it.

    The six Demonstration Gardens display different aspects of home garden designs where guests can learn about interesting and low-maintenance annuals, perennials, shrubs, and conifers. These gardens are updated every few years to reflect trends in landscaping. New projects include: reducing our use of potable water and reducing energy consumption in operations and maintenance.

    The Woodland and Demonstration Gardens are at the core of Cleveland Botanical Garden's mission and provide numerous formal and informal "teachable" moment opportunities. New interpretation for both gardens are planned to help promote awareness of environmental issues and ways everyone can make a difference in their own backyards.

    To learn more about the Cleveland Botanical Garden's SITES project