Land Connections  

This mailer has been provided as an avenue to disperse information pertinent to public agencies and the landscape architecture profession in hopes of fostering greater understanding and collaboration. Topics address issues that affect the built environment within which we live.


The Sustainable Sites Initiative

"The services people enjoy from healthy ecosystems are the unobtrusive foundation of daily life", Sustainable Sites Initiative

Sustainable and "green" practices have become a regular topic of discussion in our society. LEED projects are continually more commonplace and many public agencies are even mandating these practices be incorporated into their capital improvement projects.

The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and the United States Botanic Garden have been hard at work preparing a program (The Sustainable Sites Initiative) based on the sustainability of outdoor spaces. The group recently released a "Guidelines & Performance Benchmarks Report" outlining the sustainable sites initiative and a ranking system for project certification. The initiative is still not an active program, but has been opened up for pilot projects. The pilot program process will provide much needed information to streamline the rating system in preparation for a final program release. Below are the particulars of this initiative:

Rating System -
The system consists of 15 prerequisites and 51 credits. The credits add up to a maximum obtainable 250 points. A project can obtain up to a four star certification by obtaining varying levels of points. The breakdown is as follows:

Star= 100 pointslogo starstar= 125 points

starstarstar= 150 pointslogo starstarstarstar=200 points

Prerequisite and Credit Structure-
Prerequisites and credits are distributed throughout nine categories or project phases which focus on environmental, economic, and social facets of site development. Most categories have prerequisites that must be met in order to receive project certification. The categories are as follows:

  • Site Selection
    "Select locations to preserve existing resources and repair damaged systems"
    ( 4 prerequisites / 21 possible credit points)
  • Pre-Design Assessment & Planning
    "Plan for sustainability from the onset of the project"
    (2 prerequisites / 4 possible credit points)
  • Site Design - Water
    "Protect and restore processes and systems associated with a site's hydrology"
    (1 prerequisite / 44 possible credit points)
  • Site Design - Soil & Vegetation
    "Protect and restore processes and systems associated with a site's soil and vegetation"
    (3 prerequisites / 51 possible credit points)
  • Site Design - Materials Selection
    "Reuse / recycle existing materials and support sustainable production practices"
    (1 prerequisite / 36 possible credit points)
  • Site Design - Human Health & Well-Being
    "Build strong communities and a sense of stewardship"
    (0 prerequisites / 32 possible credit points)
  • Construction
    "Minimize effects of construction related activities"
    (2 prerequisites / 21 possible credit points)
  • Operations & Maintenance
    "Maintain the site for long-term sustainability"
    (2 prerequisites / 23 possible credit points)
  • Monitoring & Innovation
    "Reward exceptional performance and improve the body of knowledge on long-term sustainability"
    (0 prerequisites / 18 possible credit points)

Pilot Program -
Pilot projects are now being accepted for the sustainable sites initiative rating system. Projects selected for this phase will be the first to demonstrate the application of the most current initiative guidelines. Information learned through the pilot project program will then be used to form a final technical reference manual. Projects chosen to participate will represent a broad range of geographic locations, sizes, budget levels, and project types. Projects interested in this program and meeting all prerequisite criteria and a minimum size requirement of 2,000 square feet may be registered on-line through February 15th.

O'Dell Engineering

The next time you need a Landscape Architect on your project, consider O'Dell Engineering's Landscape Architecture Department.

Services include:

  • Park and Playground Design
  • Recreational Facility Design
  • Site Planning
  • Streetscape Design
  • Urban Design
  • Commercial Design
  • 3-D Visualizations
  • Graphic Design
  • Arborist Consulting




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  • Trees & the Urban Environment Part III
  • California Model Water Efficient Landscape Ordinance
Author: Chad Kennedy, Landscape Architect

This informational article provided by O'Dell Engineering - 1165 Scenic Drive, Suite A, Modesto CA 95350