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Sustainable Sites Initiative Preliminary Report Released for Comment

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SSI) has released a preliminary report of proposed standards and guidelines for comment. SSI is a partnership between the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden to create voluntary guidelines and a rating system for sustainable landscape design.

The SSI preliminary report is the result of more than a year of work by a diverse group of experts in development, design, construction and maintenance of landscapes. The work groups are divided into four subcomittees: hydrology; soils; vegetation; and materials. The work is based on a comprehensive review of the current science and best practices.

SSI is building on the success of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. LEED guidelines provide a formal guide for builders and developers to design and construct certified green buildings, while SSI will tackle the landscape aspect.

"SSI offers the opportunity for businesses to explore and adopt specific ways to make the connection between the burgeoning green building trend and the landscapes around or on top of these buildings," said Bob Dolibois, executive vice president of the American Nursery & Landscape Association (ANLA). ANLA is involved in developing the plant guidelines and has a representative on the vegetation subcommittee. The preliminary standards and guidelines focus on using site adapted plant material and proper site preparation. In other words, says Dolibois, a philosophy of right plant, right place. Dolibois suggests that the greatest benefit of the program may lie in tying the landscaping to the beginning of the building design, not as an afterthought.

The preliminary report includes a brief history of the initiative; the timeline for this five-year project; the guiding principles and decision-making; the role of soils, hydrology, vegetation and materials; and land practices, including goals, strategies, tools and measures of success for achieving site sustainability
The preliminary report is open for comment until January 11, 2008.

"If we want this system to work to our advantage, then the industry needs to weigh in with its advice and counsel," Dolibois added.

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December 10, 2019, 7:10 pm PDT

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