Pilot Projects to Test First National Rating System for Sustainable Landscapes

Chicago — September 21, 2009 — Today, the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ announced a November 5 call for pilot projects that will test the first national rating system for sustainable landscapes. The Initiative 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 guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings. The announcement took place at the ASLA Annual Meeting in Chicago .

The Initiative will accept applications starting November 5 and closing February 15, 2010, in conjunction with the release of the next report and new rating system, online at www.sustainablesites.org. Any type of designed landscape is eligible to participate, ranging from academic and corporate campuses, parks and recreation areas, transportation corridors to single residences so long as the total size exceeds 2,000 square feet. Fees for participating in the pilot project process may run between $500 to $5,000 depending on project size. Approximately 75 to 150 projects will take part in testing the rating system.

Until now, design and construction rating systems included little recognition for benefits of sustainable landscape and site design. Landscapes can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, all while providing significant economic benefits to land owners and municipalities. The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Initiative, anticipates incorporating the Sustainable Sites guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™. More information is available at www.sustainablesites.org.

About the Sustainable Sites Initiative

The Sustainable Sites Initiative is a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden working in conjunction with a diverse group of stakeholder organizations to create a voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes, large and small. In addition to the Founding Partners, major funding for the Sustainable Sites Initiative is provided by: the Meadows Foundation and Landscape Structures. Additional funding is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the Horticultural Research Institute, the USDA Forest Service and the U.S. General Services Administration. For more information, visit www.sustainablesites.org.

About ASLA

Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing 17,000 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters. The Society's mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. Members of the Society use the “ASLA” suffix after their names to denote membership and their commitment to the highest ethical standards of the profession. Learn more about landscape architecture online at www.asla.org.

About the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to increasing the sustainable use and conservation of native plants and landscapes. Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady, the Wildflower Center maintains an extensive native plant botanic garden and offers professional and adult education. The Wildflower Center also conducts research on landscape restoration and plant conservation at its 279-acre site, promoting the role of native plants in addressing ecological problems. Recent research initiatives focus on native turf grasses, green roof technology in a sub-tropical climate, prairie restoration methods including prescribed fire, the control of invasive species, and ways in which native plants can aid in combating climate change in urban landscapes. Learn more at www.wildflower.org.

About the United States Botanic Garden

Dating from 1820, the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America . Operating under the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress since 1856, the Garden informs visitors about the importance and fundamental value of plants to the well-being of humans and our planet. It also highlights the diversity of plants worldwide, particularly their aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological significance. With nearly a million visitors annually and located on the National Mall, the USBG strives to demonstrate and promote sustainable practices for individuals, organizations, and institutions. The U.S. Botanic Garden is administered through the Office of the Architect of the Capitol as part of the Legislative Branch of the Federal Government. Learn more online at www.usbg.gov.



Contact:

Jim Lapides
American Society of Landscape Architects
Phone: 202-216-2371
314-707-8823 (cell)
E-mail: Email Contact

Saralee Tiede
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Phone: 512-232-0104
E-mail: Email Contact

Sally Bourrie
U.S. Botanic Garden
Phone: 202-226-4145
E-mail: Email Contact




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