Sustainable Sites gaining steam

by Caroline Brown

Finally!! A group has come together to “standardize” the definition of a sustainable landscape. The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and other organizations have created a partnership called the Sustainable Sites Initiative to develop guidelines and standards for landscape sustainability.

Currently, “sustainable landscape” is a nebulous, mushy concept. What does it mean with regards to water conservation, for example? Or use of native plants? Since it’s never been defined before, “sustainable landscape” is in the eye of the beholder.

The intention of Sustainable Sites is in effect to define sustainability and create guidelines for developing sustainable landscapes, in the same way that the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System provides standards for environmentally sustainable construction:

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is an effort to develop standards and guidelines for site development that will reduce the environmental impact of landscapes.

The standards can be used by those who design, construct, operate and maintain landscapes, including planners, landscape architects, engineers, developers, builders, maintenance crews, horticulturists, governments, land stewards and organizations offering building standards.

Sustainable Sites will review research, technology, and best practices and develop a rating system and a reference guide. The group has already published a preliminary report that is open for public comment until January 2008. Check it out here and if you’re interested in making yourself heard, give them some feedback!

I’m really excited about this. From the looks of things there’s a lot of industry support behind it and it seems to have a lot of steam. Hopefully in the not-too-distant future, sustainable landscape will actually mean something.

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3 Comments to “Sustainable Sites gaining steam”

  1. Wow. After a quick look at one page — “Why Sustainable Sites” — with just a few compiled statistics, I am really impressed with the work they’ve done. I never really thought about it on the scale they’re talking about. It makes sense from an individual perspective that pesticide and water use, and yard waste, multiplied by all the households in a neighborhood, could be a problem, but the numbers they’ve gathered highlight the real magnitude.

    I look forward to reading the report and going through the rest of the pages at the site. Thank you for writing about it!

  2. This is really interesting … I’ve signed up for email updates to keep track of their work. It’s incredible to think that 18% of landfill volume is leaves and garden waste. We need to do a better job promoting leaf composting.

  3. interesting indeed. great site you have here. keep it up.

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