Sustainable Sites Releases Rating System

Washington, DC (November 5, 2009)- Three years of research and work culminates as the Sustainable Sites Initiative releases the first full national rating system for sustainable landscapes as part of the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 report. This latest report takes into account feedback from hundreds of individuals and organizations across the country and around the world. In addition, the report includes a supplemental educational report, titled Making the Case for Sustainable Landscapes, that provides scientific and economic arguments underlying the guidelines, and highlights several case studies for sustainable practices.

To create the rating system, Sustainable Sites technical committee members completed a series of weighting exercises to establish a point-based ranking system for 51 credits. The Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 also includes 15 prerequisites that range from selecting the appropriate site for development, conducting a pre-design site assessment to requiring a site maintenance plan that ensures long-term sustainability. Credits are assigned a point value and in many cases, offer a range of points providing projects additional flexibility in selecting the level (or benchmark) that is appropriate and achievable for them.
Pilot Projects to Test First National Rating System
In conjunction with the release of the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009, the Sustainable Sites Initiative invites projects to apply as a pilot project to test this rating system. Any type of designed landscape is eligible, as long as the project size is at least 2,000 square feet. The call for pilot projects will remain open until February 18, 2010 and the Initiative anticipates working with 75 to 150 projects during the two-year process. For more information on the pilot projects, visit or email
The Initiative will accept applications online starting November 5 through February 15, 2010. Any type of designed landscape is eligible to participate, ranging from academic and corporate campuses, parks and recreation areas, transportation corridors to single residences, with a minimum project size of 2,000 square feet. Fees for participating in the pilot project process will run between $500 to $5,000 depending on project budget (There may be limited scholarships available based on need). They hope to have between 75 and 150 projects take part in testing the rating system.
Learn more about the Sustainable Sites Initiative
You’re invited to learn more about the Sustainable Sites Initiative at these upcoming conferences. Check our website for the most current listing.
* October 29, 2009: Professional Grounds Management Society, Louisville, Kentucky.
* October 29, 2009: Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), Louisville, Kentucky.
* November 12, 2009: U.S. Green Building Council’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, Phoenix, Arizona (12:30-1:30pm Specialty Update).
* December 1, 2009: Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin, Texas.
* February 3, 2010: Central Virginia Nursery and Landscape Association (CVNLA) Symposium, Richmond, Virginia.
* February 4-6, 2010: 9th Annual New Partners for Smart Growth, Seattle, Washington.
* February 17-19, 2010: Sustainable Horticulture Symposium, Royal Botanic Gardens, Hamilton, Ontario.
* February 23, 2010: Smithsonian, Washington, D.C.
Related Resources:
Sustainable Sites Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009
Sustainable Sites Pilot Projects