Sustainable Sites

Sustainable Sites Initiative – Green is not all about commercial buildings


The roadmap to sustainable buildings

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) created LEED in 2000 as a blueprint for the certification of sustainable construction. The program was an excellent roadmap, but upon further review the fact that only commercial properties were addressed could be considered restrictive. Do we live in commercial buildings (except for high-rise apartments), and would we want to spend all our waking hours there?

What about the land projects are constructed on?

While LEED touched on landscapes, its focus was designed to create green buildings. The Sustainable Site Initiative (SSI) might be a more logical certification if your project involves a significant amount of landscape. Examples would include infrastructure projects, campuses, commercial or residential sites, open spaces and parks.

The rating systems for building include little recognition of the benefits of sustainable landscape and site design, especially from a regenerative landscape and human well-being point of view. While carbon-neutral performance remains the holy grail for green construction, sustainable landscapes move beyond a do-no-harm approach by sequestering carbon, cleaning the air and water, increasing energy efficiency, restoring habitats, and ultimately giving back through significant economic, social, and environmental benefits.

The sustainable landscape projects need professionals

The sustainable sites of the future will not create themselves. Other professionals will be needed to increase the impact this certification can have on the landscapes of the future. I am working on my SITES certification, and I will need all the help I can get. Anyone care to join me?