SITES® Rating System

Landscapes can be more than just beautiful spaces or outdoor play places. They can be regenerative, protective and beneficial to all living things. The Sustainable SITES Initiative® promotes the creation of sustainable built landscapes that reduce demand on natural resources and sustain healthy ecological systems, providing such benefits as clean air and water as well as gathering places for social connection.

The Wildflower Center, the United States Botanic Garden and the American Society of Landscape Architects led the development of SITES® from its inception in 2006, eventually leading to the SITES v2 Rating System. SITES v2 is a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort made possible by the input of more than 70 national contributors. It was unveiled in June 2014 and in May 2015 the SITES program was officially acquired by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) in order to leverage its reach, expand program offerings and optimize the certification experience.

Originally modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Green Building Rating System, SITES v2 — which is described as a “sustainability-focused framework that ushers landscape architects, engineers and others toward practices that protect ecosystems” — is the first voluntary rating system available for the public to pursue sustainable landscape certification. SITES was adopted by the General Services Administration (GSA) for new federal construction and renovation projects in early 2016.

SITES v2 provides a comprehensive set of guidelines and performance-based metrics for rewarding leadership in the design and development of high-performance landscapes. The system addresses increasingly urgent global concerns such as climate change, loss of biodiversity, resource depletion and pollution. It can be used by those who design, construct, operate and maintain landscapes and applies to projects with or without buildings, from open spaces, streetscapes and plazas to commercial and corporate campuses, residential sites, educational campuses, infrastructure-related projects and industrial sites.

A total of 47 projects achieved SITES pilot certification under the initial 2009 Rating System (or “v1”), including the Center’s own Luci and Ian Family Garden. To register a project or learn about the certification process, please visit In addition, a SITES credential is now available for professionals who want to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise and commitment to sustainability. The SITES Accredited Professional (SITES AP) establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development.


SITES at The University of Texas at El Paso
First SITES v2 Certified Landscapes Create Real Impact

USGBC Major Push on SITES
Applying SITES v2 to the Landscape
Driving Sustainability Beyond the Building
Ecosystem Services Built for Landscapes
SITES and soils
SITES Certifies Four New Landscapes
SITES for Homeowners


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