Tridens flavus, the purpletop tridens, is a large, robust perennial bunchgrass native to eastern North America
Administered by the GBCI (Green Business Certification), the Sustainable Sites Initiative’s SITESv2 is the rating system that aligns land development and management with innovative sustainable design. And, unlike LEED, SITES certification is accessible to small projects with limited budgets.
Today a variety of projects in the US and abroad are SITES-certified or are pursuing certification. Over 40 million square feet of outdoor spaces have achieved SITESv2 certification as of May, 2018.
Can a non-profit group with a small budget meet SITES requirements? The Hempstead Plains Interpretive Center (HPIC) demonstrates that it is possible. Its 2015 SITES Silver-certified Pilot Project conserved and enhanced a community and environmental asset. Located on a college campus in Garden City, New York, Hempstead Plains is one of the last remaining remnants of what once was a 40,000 acre eastern prairie, the only one east of the Appalachian Mountains.
The 19-acre HPIC prairie restoration site included a small education building (from an adapted shipping container) and parking. The education building includes a vegetated roof using ‘hyper-native’ seed (i.e., seeds collected onsite), a cistern, compostable toilet, and solar panels. While LEED was not practical because of commissioning costs, SITES was a perfect match.
The project designer (RGR Landscape Architecture & Architecture ) teamed with the SITES facilitator, Studioverde’s CeCe Haydock, (SITES AP, LEED AP). In the spirit of SITES “Integrated Design Team” requirements, they worked closely with the client, Betsy Gulotta and the Friends of Hempstead Plains to develop innovative and streamlined ways to achieve the necessary credits for Silver certification.
Making the case for SITES is straightforward: by being an early adopter, the client/owner will gain national recognition in the competitive and growing marketplace of sustainability. Hempstead Plains was once a beloved sanctuary of only a few preservationists and researchers; this year, the number of visitors multiplied and included a contingent of designers from the New York City, Department of Parks and Recreation, interested in the prairie plant palette and green roof.
Developers can benefit from project cost savings by reducing energy, maintenance, labor, materials, and water use (in other words, costs). HPIC’s simple green roof of native prairie plants has significantly reduced building cooling and heating needs. Proper soil conservation and practices have eliminated fertilizers and pesticides and reduced the need for potable water use.
To keep ahead of the competition, developers, institutions, contractors, architects, and landscape architects must adapt to the growing demands on the natural resources—energy, water, materials. Studioverde advises, facilitates and guides SITES certification cost effectively. Contact us to discuss your project and questions!