Celebrating a year of growth with SITES

Published on
17 Dec 2020
Danielle Pieranunzi
Article Headers 2021 (73)

Image from the SITES certified Library Garden at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

As this unprecedented and challenging year comes to a close, we reflect on what has been accomplished and the inspiring SITES community for their leadership, knowledge and innovation. 2020 efforts focused on creating avenues to better connect with the sustainable landscape community of practice, including the launch of a Community Call series, a monthly newsletter, and the inaugural SITES Town Hall. This past fall, we also initiated a Community Partner program to engage a wider network of organizations committed to sustainable and resilient outdoor spaces. To date, 33 partners across the industry have endorsed SITES, including The American Public Gardens Association, Trust for Public Land, Atelier Ten, Design Workshop, North Carolina State University, the University of Pennsylvania, among others. 

In response to Covid-19, we released guidance and a new pilot credit emphasizing the need for safe access to outdoor spaces. Through another pilot credit, project team members who are SITES APs can now earn innovation points for demonstrating their knowledge in sustainable landscape design and SITES. We also spent this year researching an onsite carbon sequestration pilot credit (to be released early next year) alongside LEED Sustainable Sites technical advisors and Pamela Conrad (of Climate Positive Design/ CMG). 

Despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, we saw landmark projects achieve SITES certification like the first GSA SITES v2 project, Columbus Land Port of Entry in New Mexico, the first parks in Dallas, Texas and Atlanta, Georgia, and the second project in Canada at the University of British Columbia. Projects in Japan, China, Brazil and the U.S. achieved Precertification, a new SITES pathway which launched this year. Expanding SITES global presence, the first SITES projects in Uruguay, Spain, Italy and Saudi Arabia registered this year. To date, over 200 projects and more than 730 million gross square feet of outdoor space have registered or certified with SITES, covering 38 U.S. states and Washington, DC and 14 countries. 

These are much more than numbers, of course. These are thought leaders, visionaries, and experts who are creating projects that produce regenerative outcomes. They are people like Rebecca Dunn Bryan (Watershed) and Kate Tooke (Sasaki) who took the long view when creating a place like Gulf State Park Lodge in Alabama respecting the local ecology, enhancing the human experience, and in their words “maximizing life per square foot”. They are people like Frederick Steiner who continues to raise awareness of SITES potential like in his recently published paper about SITES as a regulatory tool and means to improve ecosystem services in our built environment. Over this year, we celebrated these leaders and projects that truly inspire our collective work for more sustainable, resilient, equitable and healthy places. We look forward to continuing this important work with you in 2021!

The SITES Team at GBCI wishes you a safe, healthy and happy holiday season  - and a happy New Year!

  • To see recordings of the 2020 Community Calls, visit the SITES YouTube channel.

  • To see the new SITES pilot credits mentioned above, click here.

  • To become a SITES Community Partner and collaborate with us, click here.

  • To sign up for our monthly newsletter, click here.