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Please note that the SITES v2 Rating System and Reference Guide is slated for release in 2014. SITES v2 will replace the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009. Those familiar with the 2009 SITES rating system may be wondering what some of the major differences are between the two systems. These graphics illustrate the major changes to the system, such as relocated, combined, and new credits and prerequisites.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 is the product of more than four years of work by a diverse group of experts in soils, hydrology, vegetation, materials and human health and well-being (released November 2009). It includes criteria for sustainable land practices that will enable built landscapes to support natural ecological functions by protecting existing ecosystems and regenerating ecological capacity where it has been lost. This report focuses on measuring and rewarding a project that protects, restores and regenerates ecosystem services – benefits provided by natural ecosystems such as cleaning air and water, climate regulation and human health benefits.

The Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 includes a rating system that the pilot projects have been testing for refinement since June 2010. The 2009 rating system contains 15 prerequisites and 51 credits that cover all stages of the site development process from site selection to landscape maintenance.

The companion document titled The Case for Sustainable Landscapes provides a set of arguments—economic, environmental, and social—for the adoption of sustainable land practices, additional background on the science behind the performance criteria in the guidelines and performance benchmarks, the purpose and principles of the Sustainable Sites Initiative, and a sampling of case studies (that pre-date the 2009 rating system and pilot program).

The Sustainable Sites Initiative:
Guidelines and Performance Benchmark
s 2009
The Case for Sustainable Landscapes

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PDF version

If citing the reports described above, please use the following language:

Sustainable Sites Initiative. 2009.  The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009. Available at http://www.sustainablesites.org/report.

Sustainable Sites Initiative. 2009.  The Case for Sustainable Landscapes. Available at http://www.sustainablesites.org/report.