GSA Adopts SITES Rating System Born at the Center

by | May 5, 2016 | Pressroom

Staff and collaborators of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center were enthused to receive a recent announcement that the General Services Administration (GSA) has adopted the SITES v2 Rating System for new federal construction and renovation projects. Administered by Green Business Certification, Inc. (GBCI), SITES® helps land-development professionals and stakeholders implement practices that create and sustain healthy landscapes. SITES has roots at the Center; planning, research and development that began here nearly a decade ago now branches out to bear international impact. In the tradition of The University of Texas at Austin’s motto, “What starts here changes the world.”

The SITES Rating System is described as a “sustainability-focused framework that ushers landscape architects, engineers and others toward practices that protect ecosystems and enhance the mosaic of benefits they continuously provide our communities. … SITES is the culmination of years of research and development by leading professionals in the fields of soil, water, vegetation, materials and human health.”

Numerous Wildflower Center staff rank among those leading experts, including Danielle Pieranunzi, Sustainable Sites Initiative director at the Center. Pieranunzi describes SITES as an essential tool for sustainable land design and development that was missing in the marketplace, moving the focus beyond efficiency to regenerative practices that promote healthy and resilient communities.

“SITES addresses urgent problems of today such as climate change, water and air pollution, and public health as well as elevates the value of landscapes and the critical ecosystem services they provide such as cleaning air and water, supporting pollinators, controlling erosion, and contributing to human health and well-being,” says Pieranunzi.

Luci and Ian Family Garden

The The 4.5-acre Luci and Ian Family Garden is the only native plant garden developed for families in Central Texas and was a SITES pilot project. (Photo: Brian Berzer)

GSA’s announcement closely follows a White House memorandum from October 2015 calling on federal agencies to consider often-overlooked ecosystem services in planning and decision making. The White House Blog announcing the document states:

“Today’s actions, and future actions and events, will enhance our ability to recognize and leverage the benefits of natural systems, protect against natural hazards, and support social and economic development while keeping our communities and our world healthy and livable.”

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is proud to continuously support and develop ideas and actions that serve our mission to restore, conserve and create healthy landscapes.