Four Landscape Projects Bring Total to 30 Certified by National Sustainability Rating System

February 4, 2014

WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Sustainable Sites Initiative(TM) (SITES(TM)) program has certified landscapes at a federal courthouse in New Mexico; a Washington, D.C., elementary school; a campus plaza in Washington, D.C.; and an urban plaza in Washington state.

The four projects certified by the nation’s most comprehensive rating system for sustainable landscapes are: Albuquerque’s Pete V. Domenici U.S. Courthouse, which received a two star certification; Brent Elementary School in Washington, D.C., which received one star; Square 80 Plaza at The George Washington University, also in D.C. with one star; and East Bay Public Plaza in Olympia, Washington, with one star.

The SITES program is a collaboration of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center of The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. The program was created to fill a critical need for a comprehensive set of guidelines and a system for recognizing sustainable landscapes based on their planning, design, construction and intended maintenance. This voluntary national rating system and set of performance benchmarks can be applied to projects of all sizes and on sites with or without buildings.

“It is exciting to see a growing number of projects across the country that have applied an integrative design process to meet rigorous sustainability guidelines, while finding ways to address urgent environmental and social challenges,” said SITES Program Director Danielle Pieranunzi, who is based at the Wildflower Center. “We are thrilled to certify these four new projects that truly exemplify the breadth of approaches to sustainable site design and development.”

The newly certified projects applied the 2009 SITES Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks and met the requirements for pilot certification. There are now 30 landscape projects at universities, businesses and public spaces that have achieved this recognition. The SITES rating system was created by dozens of the country’s leading sustainability experts, scientists and design professionals.

The four newly certified projects each incorporate sustainable features that were evaluated using a rating system with certification levels of one to four stars. These landscape projects include the following sustainable features:

    --  Pete V. Domenici United States Courthouse Sustainable Landscape
        Renovation, Two Stars, Rios Clementi Hale Studios, Albuquerque, N.M.
        This federal courthouse is the first project constructed by the General
        Services Administration to achieve SITES certification. Originally
        constructed in 1998, the underused hardscape plazas, overwatered lawns
        and faulty water feature of the existing courthouse exemplified resource
        inefficiency, disconnection from its environment, and distance from the
        public. The landscape renovation reconceives the site as a cohesive
        park-like landscape rooted within the rich cultural, climatic and
        hydrological fabric of the Rio Grande Basin. Innovative strategies
        include the selective removal and re-use of excess concrete paving to
        create seat wall terraces that direct site stormwater into a series of
        native habitat rain gardens. The project creates a bold landscape and
        dignified setting for court operations while enhancing the efficiency
        and sustainable operations through improved water management, decreased
        energy use and increased urban habitat.
    --  Brent Elementary Schoolyard Greening, One Star, Sustainable Life
        Designs, Washington, D.C. Located five blocks from the nation's Capitol,
        this greyfield site with asphalt-dominated grounds was transformed into
        a sustainable landscape that educates students, parents, and
        neighborhood residents about green infrastructure. Improvements include
        the removal of 1,600 square feet of asphalt and the installation of
        pollinator gardens, stormwater management features, new play equipment,
        and 7,000 square feet of outdoor classrooms to enhance outdoor play and
        learning that were achieved through numerous volunteer hours. The
        stormwater management features include a rain garden, rain barrel, and
        bio-retention swale. A formerly trash-strewn space behind the school
        building is now an "urban canyon" that helps manage stormwater and
        provides native habitat.
    --  Square 80 Plaza at The George Washington University, One Star, Studio 39
        Landscape Architecture, Washington, D.C. The Square 80 Plaza project
        converted an existing parking lot into a park that creates pedestrian
        connections and open space at an urban university campus. The project
        retains 100 percent of its stormwater runoff on site through the use of
        biofiltration planters, permeable paving, hardscape diversion through
        use of small channels, and the collection of site water into a system of
        inter-connected cisterns. All plants used on the site are native and
        adapted species, and all water used for irrigation and the sculptural
        water feature is fed by the rainwater collected in the cistern, which
        uses no potable water.
    --  East Bay Public Plaza,One Star, Robert W. Droll Landscape Architect,
        Olympia, Washington. East Bay Public Plaza is a vibrant public urban
        space located in the Puget Sound region that showcases the benefits of
        reclaimed water and the efforts of the LOTT Alliance, an Olympia-based
        wastewater treatment company. The former brownfield includes new
        educational elements such as discovery markers, interactive stream
        features, a series of interpretive panels, and a ground plane timeline
        that playfully charts the past, present and future of reclaimed water to
        inspire and inform visitors.

Based on the experiences of many of the pilot projects, a refined set of guidelines and rating system, SITES v2, will incorporate additional recommendations from technical experts. This updated version of the 2009 SITES rating system will be published and available for distribution and use by the general public in 2014.

For more information about the SITES program, visit www.sustainablesites.org. For images and interviews about the SITES program and the certified pilot projects, contact media@sustainablesites.org.

Media Contacts : Barbra Rodriguez, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, brodriguez@wildflower.org, 512.232.0105; Ray Mims, rmims@aoc.gov, U.S. Botanic Garden, 202.409.1659; Terence Poltrack, American Society of Landscape Architects, tpoltrack@asla.org, 202.216.7852.

SOURCE American Society of Landscape Architects

Source: PR Newswire

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