SITES is a point-based rating system that guides the development of sustainable, ecologically resilient communities and supports the benefits to people and land from healthy functioning landscapes, such as flood mitigation and climate regulation. Administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), the SITES process provides performance measures that assess and ensure the sustainability of the design, construction and maintenance of the landscape.
The Sustainable SITES Initiative has certified the Lower Ramble at the Silver level, making it the first SITES certified project in Arkansas and demonstrating the City of Fayetteville’s dedication to sustainable, beautiful and functional public landscapes. The Lower Ramble project, which contains the Fay Jones Woods and Tanglewood Branch Creek, scored 95 points during the certification process, with credits being awarded for restoration of aquatic ecosystems and the use of regional materials.
SITES Certification Point Levels are:
- Certified: 70
- Silver: 85
- Gold: 100
- Platinum: 135
SITES Section Criteria
There are ten "sections" under which a project can gain points toward certification. Each section includes several possible project factors and design elements that can earn points for the overall project. Learn more about the SITES initiative here. In the graphic below, you can see the goals for each of these sections and plans for addressing those in the Cultural Arts Corridor plan.
Section 1. Site Context
Particular attention is placed on understanding the context of where a project is located and developed. SITES requires protection of existing, functioning natural features that are unique, critical, sensitive or threatened, such as farmlands, floodplains, wetlands and wildlife habitats. This section looks beyond the site boundary to consider how the surrounding area can contribute to reducing pollution, improving human health and well-being and supporting local economies and communities.
Section 2. Pre-Design Assessment and Planning
The design team must conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing physical, biological and cultural conditions that will inform planning and design. This team must include experts in natural systems, design, construction and maintenance, in addition to representatives of the community and the intended site users.
Section 3. Site Design - Water
This section encourages projects that are designed to conserve water, maximize the use of precipitation and protect water quality. The goal is to incorporate strategies and technologies that restore or mimic natural systems.
Section 4. Site Design – Soil and Vegetation
This section requires proper soil management as a design element and construction priority. Using appropriate vegetation, managing invasive plants and restoring biodiversity (emphasizing native species) are some key strategies.
Section 5. Site Design – Materials Selection
The use of materials in site design and construction present opportunities to decrease the amount of materials sent to landfills, to preserve natural resources, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to support the use of sustainable building products.
Section 6. Site Design – Human Health and Well-Being
This section promotes outdoor opportunities for physical activity, restorative and aesthetic experiences and social interaction. It also encourages projects to address social equity in their design and development choices.
Section 7. Construction
This section encourages projects to protect air quality through low-emitting equipment, strive for a net-zero waste site, ensure healthy vegetation through soil-restoration strategies and protect receiving waters from polluted runoff and sedimentation.
Section 8. Operations and Maintenance
This section promotes maintenance strategies that maximize the site’s long-term potential in providing ecosystem services. Strategies include reducing material disposal, ensuring long-term health of soil and vegetation, reducing pollution, conserving energy and encouraging the use of renewable energy.
Section 9. Education and Performance Monitoring
This section recognizes projects for efforts made to inform and educate the public about the project goals and the sustainable practices implemented in site design, construction and maintenance. It also creates an incentive to monitor, document and report the performance of the site over time in order to influence and improve the body of knowledge in site sustainability.”
Section 10. Innovation or Exemplary Performance
This section awards bonus points to projects that demonstrate exemplary performance above and beyond the targets established by one or more of the credits. SITES also supports innovation by awarding extra points to projects that develop or pursue sustainable practices or meet benchmarks for sustainable performance that are not currently addressed in SITES v2.