Over the weekend at the 2007 American Society of Landscape Architects (“ASLA“) Expo in San Francisco, ASLA, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the U.S. Botanic Garden officially announced the development of a rating system specific to sustainable site design. Called the Sustainable Sites Initiative, the group’s efforts began back in 2005 with the formation of its Product Development Committee, which consists of 11 organizations and technical subcommittees, including a number of experts. On November 1, 2007, the Initiative’s Preliminary Draft Report will be released and made available for 45 days of public commenting. The purpose of the Draft Report is to “introduce the public to the Sustainable Sites Initiative and its current investigations into soils, hydrology, vegetation, materials and human services.” Two additional interim reports will be released between now and the spring of 2009, when the group expects to release a final Standards and Guidelines document that will offer technical advice on the construction, maintenance, and operation of sustainable sites.
The group will solicit feedback from the industry on the Standards and Guidelines, with an actual rating system to follow in the spring of 2011, which will award credits in a similar process to USGBC’s LEED program. The group will also test the Standards and Guidelines on a number of Pilot Projects beginning in 2010. USGBC has agreed to incorporate the group’s findings into future versions of LEED, though specific details on when and how that will be accomplished don’t appear presently available (perhaps because of LEED’s present state of flux and the pending release of LEED Version 3.0). Regardless, the group’s efforts are important and will be instructive; we’ll be keeping an eye on its Preliminary Report through the close of public commenting next month.