GBCI Launches Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes

The system grades the sustainability of landscapes, including those of single-family homes and commercial properties as well as streetscapes and national parks

By By Professional Builder Staff | June 26, 2015

A rating system that grades the sustainability of landscapes, including those of single-family homes and commercial properties as well as streetscapes and national parks, was recently launched by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI).

Through sustainable landscape design and management, the system, called Sites, works to address global concerns including climate change, loss of biodiversity, and resource depletion. Builders can apply the rating system to homes for enhancing built landscapes.

The rating system was originally modeled after LEED and includes best practices in landscape architecture, ecological restoration and related fields, and knowledge gained through peer-reviewed literature, case-study precedents, and projects registered in the Sites pilot program.

“Sustainable landscapes are critical in their ability to reduce water demand, filter and reduce storm water runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities,” GBCI CEO Rick Fedrizzi said in a press release. “Sites is an important addition to our toolkit, and GBCI appreciates this opportunity to support this additional contribution to healthy, thriving communities and neighborhoods.”

Sites was developed through a col­la­bor­ative effort by the Ameri­can Socie­ty of Land­scape Ar­chi­tects, The Lady Bird John­son Wild­flower Center of the Uni­versity of Texas at Aus­tin, and the U.S. Bo­tanic Garden. Years of development and field-testing created the grading system, which uses progressive industry standards for landscape design and includes other recommendations from technical experts in the fields of soil science, botany, horticulture, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being.

More than 100 projects were part of a two-year pilot program that tested the viability of the Sites system. Of those projects, 46 achieved certification, some of which were landscape projects for private homes. The rating system includes 18 prerequisites and 48 credits that total 200 points to reach four certification levels. In addition to the prerequisites and credits, projects that use innovative strategies and show exemplary performance can receive bonus points in Sites ranking. The American Society of Landscape Architects and the Wildflower Center will help GBCI create and implement Sites credentialing and certification offerings, including training project reviewers as well as educational opportunities for pursuing Sites certification.

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