BioCycle July 2014
New Rating System For Sustainable Sites
In late June, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) announced the release of the SITES v2 Rating System and Reference Guide, a culmination of seven years of work that includes input from over 100 projects that field-tested the 2009 rating system. SITES is a voluntary national rating system that utilizes an extensive set of guidelines and performance benchmarks to acknowledge sustainable landscape design at any scale. The intention is to create ecologically productive environments that can be part of a solution to challenges like storm water management, wildlife habitat destruction, human health, and loss of outdoor recreation opportunities.
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 collaborated to develop the SITES program and the v2 rating system. The new rating system combines innovative industry standards with recommendations from technical experts in the fields of soil science, botany and horticulture, hydrology, materials, and human health and well-being to provide the most comprehensive model for designing sustainable landscapes. “When we design and manage our environment, we have the responsibility to do so in ways that conserve water, clean air and water, and reduce vulnerability to damage from flooding, storm surge and drought,” notes Danielle Pieranunzi, SITES program director at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “The performance-based benchmarks of SITES v2 will guide and reward exemplary projects that accomplish these important goals.” To download the v2 rating system or purchase the Reference Guide, www.sustainablesites.org/rating-system.
Ecodistricts Announces Target Cities Program
In late June, EcoDistricts, a nonprofit based in Portland, Oregon that helps facilitate sustainable urban development at the district- and neighborhood-scale, announced the Target Cities program. Target Cities is a two-year partnership with nine diverse development projects in seven cities across North America. EcoDistricts’ role will include assisting project partners to: Develop governance models that catalyze far-reaching political and technical change; Carry out comprehensive assessment and goal setting tasks; and Speed up the deployment of strategies to widen impact. All of the Target Cities projects will utilize the EcoDistricts Protocol, a tool created by EcoDistricts that supports and rewards district-scale in two key areas: establishing rigorous performance goals and institutionalizing effective “process management.” The performance areas include: energy, equitable development; health and wellbeing; community identity; transportation; water; habitat and ecosystem functionality; and optimized materials management.
The Protocol and EcoDistricts process are designed to provide some consistency to the various projects that range from development in business districts to residential communities. For example, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the focus is Kendall Square, a 260-acre, high-density commercial innovation and transportation hub committed to district-scale solutions for meeting expected growth in transit demand while improving energy efficiency through shared energy systems. “The timing couldn’t be more critical. Change in the form of an unstable climate, stressed infrastructure, shifting demographics and economic uncertainty has already arrived, so the question is not: ‘will cities change’? It’s: ‘what shape will the change take?” notes Rob Bennett, EcoDistricts CEO. To learn more about the Target Cities Program and EcoDistricts Protocol, attend the 2014 EcoDistricts Summit in Washington, D.C., September 24-26, 2014, or visit www.ecodistricts.org.