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 suggests that such change moves from a do-not-harm principle or conservation and use reduction to ultimately a production and regenerative outcome, through Performative Landscapes."

    Project Schedule
    1. The Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 (published November 5, 2009)
    2. Pilot Projects Phase - June 2010 thru June 2012
    3. SITES Reference Guide - target publication date late 2012/early 2013
    4. Open Enrollment - 2013

    Currently there are over 150 SITES projects going on throughout the US.

    The Guidelines released in November 2009 is divided into 9 sections with 15 prerequisites and 51 credits.

    The 250 point scale is divided into 4 levels with each level equaling one start. The four levels of certification are:
         One star - 100 points (40%)
         Two stars - 125 points (50%)
         Three stars - 150 points (60%)
         Four stars - 200 points (80%)

    To view a brochure on the benefits of Sustainable Sites - "Landscapes Give Back- Benefits of Sustainable Sites"


    Sustainable Design Support - Ohio Prairie Nursery



    The Cleveland Botanical Garden's SITES project

    The OCASLA is working with URS on the Cleveland Botanical Gardens SITES project. The Cleveland Botanical Garden is one of 3 Pilot projects for the Sustainable Sites Initiative in Northeast Ohio. The goal of the Botanical Garden is 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.

    link to the Cleveland Botanical Garden's SITES project