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The Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES®) is the most comprehensive program for designing, developing and maintaining sustainable landscapes. The SITES rating system helps conserve, restore and create the benefits provided by healthy ecosystems.

Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally, SITES is a complement to the U.S. Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED green building rating system.

What is SITES?

  • SITES is based on the understanding that land is a crucial component of the built environment. Using the SITES rating system, projects are planned, designed and developed in a way that protects and enhances the benefits people derive from healthy, functioning landscapes through practices, such as carbon storage, crop pollination and flood mitigation.
  • SITES provides tools and best-practices for innovative design and land development and management. SITES sets standards for sustainable land use for a wide range of development projects with or without buildings–from open spaces, streetscapes and plazas, to commercial, residential and industrial projects.
  • SITES is designed for the future of the green building industry. As a complement to USGBC’s LEED green building rating system, SITES addresses the market’s need for a way to quantify and rate the sustainable use and performance of land sites. It was developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Botanic Garden. GBCI acquired SITES in 2015.
  • There are SITES projects registered around the world from New York to Los Angeles, to Vancouver to Hong Kong. SITES is used by landscape architects, engineers, architects, developers and policy makers to align land development and management with innovative sustainable design.


  • The SITES allows projects to benchmark against performance criteria that support green business practices. The four overarching goals of the rating system are to create regenerative systems and foster resiliency; ensure future resource supply and mitigate climate change; transform the market through design, development and maintenance practices; and enhance human wellbeing and strengthen the community.
  • Population growth and development are causing our communities to use more resources than ever before. Traditional land development and land use decisions often underestimate or ignore healthy ecosystems. Sustainable land development is cost-effective, better for the land and fosters resiliency.
  • SITES is based on the concept of ecosystem services, the benefits provided by the natural ecological processes that support our daily lives. SITES benefits the environment, property owners and local and regional communities and economies.
  • SITES-certified landscapes create ecologically resilient communities that are better able to withstand and recover from floods, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events. SITES-certified projects help reduce water demand; conserve or restore natural resources; enable wildlife habitat; reduce energy consumption; and promote human health and wellbeing.

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