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First Certification for SITES Version 2


Parking lots and sloped landscapes at the University of Texas at El Paso were transformed into an 11.5-acre community landscape and meeting space featuring a performance lawn and amphitheater, desert gardens, vegetated bioswales that mimic natural arroyos, walking paths and a variety of plants native to the Chihuahuan desert, such as various agaves, sagebrush, manzanitas, beehive cactus and desert willows.

The University of Texas at El Paso's campus transformation project has become the first project certified under SITES v2 (version 2). The campus redesign received Silver certification. The project converted parking lots and unusable sloped areas into an 11.5-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, 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 increased the vegetative area of the site by 60 percent. The project, which was rated on 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," said Mahesh Ramanujam, CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council and president of Green Business Certification Inc.

The metrics under SITES v2 include understanding site context; predesign assessment and planning; site design for water, soil and vegetation; materials; human health and well-being; construction; operations and maintenance and performance monitoring. SITES v2 draws on experience gained from the two-year SITES pilot program that involved more than 100 projects. Forty-six of the pilot ventures achieved certification, including landscape projects at corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private residences.

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

Project team: Ten Eyck Landscape Architects (prime consultant); Quantum Engineering Consultants (civil eng.); AEC (structural eng.); EEA (MEP eng.); Lake Flato Architects; Aqua Irrigation; RLB (cost control); Altura Solutions (accessibility); Biohabitats; Regenerative Environmental Design; Yarnell & Assoc. (lighting designer); LAS (site reviewer); CF Jordan (general contractor).

As seen in LASN magazine, October 2016.

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June 18, 2019, 6:44 pm PDT

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