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First Certification Awarded Under Second Version of SITES
Campus Upgrade at UTEP



With a Silver certification from the SITES Initiative, a program for sustainable land development and management, and innovative design, the University of Texas at El Paso's "Campus Transformation Project" becomes the first endeavor to be certified under SITES v2.

The redesign on UTEP's campus converted parking lots and unusable sloped areas into an 11.57-acre community landscape and meeting space in the center of campus. The core of the project is Centennial Plaza and Centennial Green, which feature a performance lawn and a 130-seat amphitheater, desert gardens, vegetated bioswales that mimic natural arroyos, walking paths and a diverse array of trees, shrubs and perennial plants native to the Chihuahuan desert. The green infrastructure and landscape design techniques also increased the vegetative area of the site by 60 percent. The project, which was rated on a number of areas including site design, construction, operations and maintenance, received the maximum amount of points for innovation.

"The Campus Transformation Project is one of the first and largest green infrastructure projects in the El Paso region, and will benefit UTEP students, faculty and the surrounding region for years to come, said Mahesh Ramanujam, president of SITES' owner and administrator, Green Business Certification Inc., and chief operating officer of the U.S. Green Building Council. "As the first certified project under the second version of the SITES rating system, UTEP and the entire project team who worked on this certification are true leaders in campus transformation and sustainable landscape design."

The rating system with its metrics-based approach to concepts such as ecosystem services and green infrastructure draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Forty-six of these pilot ventures have achieved certification, including landscape projects at corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private homes.

"The benefits of the Campus Transformation project go beyond sustainable landscapes," said Greg McNicol, associate vice president for business affairs facilities management. "Research shows that landscapes can provide mental health, cognitive function and stress reduction benefits, which is especially important in a collegiate setting."

The project team includes: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects, Inc. (prime consultant, landscape architect); Quantum Engineering Consultants (civil engineer); AEC (structural engineer); EEA (MEP engineer); Lake|Flato Architects (architect); Aqua Irrigation (irrigation designer); RLB (cost control consultant); Altura Solutions (accessibility consultant); Biohabitats (ecological engineer); Regenerative Environmental Design (sustainability consultant); Yarnell & Assoc. (lighting designer); LAS (local site reviewer); and CF Jordan (general contractor).

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October 20, 2019, 5:46 pm PDT

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