Sustainable Sites Rating System Released, Pilot Projects Sought

A partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the U.S. Botanic Garden, the Sustainable Sites Initiative has released the first rating system in the U.S. for the design, construction, and maintenance of sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings.

The Initiative’s rating system represents four years of work by dozens of the nation’s leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals, as well as public input from hundreds of individuals and dozens of organizations. The announcement took place at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington with the participation of Nancy Somerville, executive vice president and CEO of ASLA, Susan Rieff, executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and Holly H. Shimizu, executive director of the United States Botanic Garden.

Overview Of The Rating System

The rating system works on a 250 point scale, with levels of achievement for obtaining 40%, 50%, 60% or 80% of available points, recognized with one through four stars, respectively. If prerequisites are met, points are awarded through the 51 credits covering areas such as the use of greenfields, brownfields, or greyfields; materials; soils and vegetation; construction and maintenance.

These credits can apply to projects ranging from academic and corporate campuses, parks and recreation areas, transportation corridors, and single family residences. The rating system is part of two new reports issued from the Initiative, “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes and Guidelines” and “Performance Benchmarks 2009”, both available for download here.

In order to test the rating system, the Sustainable Sites Initiative has opened a call for pilot projects in conjunction with today’s release of the rating system. Any type of designed landscape is eligible, so long as the project size is at least 2,000 square feet. The call will remain open until February 15, 2010, and the initiative will work with and oversee the projects during the two-year process. More information about the pilot projects is available at