SITES Rating System
SITES is a sustainability-focused framework that ushers landscape architects, engineers and others toward practices that protect ecosystems and enhance the mosaic of benefits they continuously provide our communities, such as climate regulation, carbon storage and flood mitigation. Explore certified projects.
SITES is the culmination of years of research and development by leading professionals in the fields of soil, water, vegetation, materials and human health. By providing performance measures rather than prescribing practices, SITES supports the unique conditions of each site, encouraging project teams to be flexible and creative as they develop beautiful, functional and regenerative landscapes.
SITES-certified landscapes help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities. The SITES certification process allows projects to benchmark against performance criteria. The process is performed through SITES Online, which is a simplified tool designed to register a project, make payments and receive worksheets to aid in project documentation.
SITES certification is based on a point system: the number of points that a project earns determines the certification level it receives.
|SITES Certified||70-84 points earned|
|SITES Silver||85-99 points earned|
|SITES Gold||100-134 points earned|
|SITES Platinum||135+ points earned|
Synergies between SITES and LEED
The SITES and LEED rating systems are complementary and can be used independently or in tandem. If you would like your project to benefit from certifying to both SITES and LEED, you can take advantage of the synergies between them. As a reminder, the LEED rating system applies to your project building and the site it is located on, while the SITES rating system applies to everything on your site, except your building (with a few exceptions).
- Download the LEED-SITES Synergies documents to learn more about how SITES interfaces with LEED BD+C and ND rating systems (v4/v2009). Please also note that a project that receives SITES Gold certification automatically earns the credits in the Sustainable Sites category in LEED v4.
- The LEED to SITES Readiness Tool is an update to the 2016 document and streamlines LEED credits that have synergies with SITES credits. It has been created to assist LEED project teams to quickly assess their readiness (and gaps) toward achieving SITES certification, based on the LEED credits achieved or anticipated. The tool provides a quick scorecard view of the available synergies between the two programs and includes newly identified credit synergies.
Eligibility and fees
SITES certification applies to new construction projects and major renovations. Ideally, a project should be constructed within the last two years at the time of registration to ensure the team can access any necessary documentation to provide credit compliance.
Projects in the planning phase can also be recognized through SITES Precertification. This optional review pathway is focused on a project’s plan, including its intended design and construction strategies.
In Spring 2022, GBCI launched a pilot program to apply SITES to existing, built landscapes. If you are interested in participating or learning more, please complete this short online form.
There is no maximum size for a SITES project, but the minimum is set at 2,000 square feet (or 185.8 square meters). SITES can be applied worldwide to a variety of projects types (with or without buildings), including:
Local, state and national parks; botanic gardens; arboretums
Streetscapes and plazas
Retail and office areas; corporate campuses
Neighborhoods or individual yards
Public and private campuses; museums; hospitals
|USGBC and ASLA Members||Non-Members|
|Combined (Registration + Certification)||$8,000||$9,500|
Note: For projects over 100 acres, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional fees will apply.
Registration fee: The registration fee is calculated on a per-project basis and must be paid at the time of registration.The fee is discounted for ASLA members and USGBC members (at the Silver or higher level) based upon the status of either the owner or the project administrator for a given SITES project. An additional discount is offered if registration and certification fees are paid together at the time of a project’s registration. A project can register at any time in the design and development process. It is strongly recommended that a project register at the earliest stages to gain access to the SITES v2 worksheets, working with GBCI more closely, and to track progress accordingly.
Precertification* fee: This is an optional review pathway for projects that is focused on a project’s plan, including its intended design and construction strategies. Precertification can help projects attract community supporters, funders, and can even expedite permitting in some localities. It helps guide the project team and client in determining which credits and prerequisites their project is likely to achieve during the full certification review. If a project chooses to continue on to a full certification review pathway, the remaining fee is the certification fee only. The fee is discounted for ASLA members and USGBC members (at the Silver or higher level) based upon the status of either the owner or the project administrator for a given SITES project. *Please note that precertification expires three years after achievement.
Certification fee: The certification fee is charged on a per-project basis. It is due before submitting a project’s application for a certification review. The fee is discounted for ASLA members and USGBC members (at the Silver or higher level) based upon the status of either the owner or the project administrator for a given SITES project. An additional discount is offered if certification and registration fees are paid together at the time of a project’s registration.
Guide to SITES Certification
A SITES certification marks a project’s commitment to sustainability. This guide covers the certification process, which involves four main steps. You also can download our free SITES Rating System for more information about prerequisites and credits for SITES certification.
Register your project in SITES Online by providing basic information and submitting the registration fee payment to receive access to SITES worksheets.
Collect and submit the necessary documentation to enable a GBCI review of your project. GBCI offers two review paths for SITES projects: Standard and Split Reviews. See Step #3 below for more detail on these two review paths. Once your project is ready for a review, please contact the SITES administrator or email@example.com for access to your project’s fileserver for uploading documentation.
GBCI will conduct a thorough examination of your project.
Sign off on your project’s final review. If yout project has achieved certification, congratulations!