Year in review: Scaling the SITES program

Published on: 
22 Dec 2016
Sarah Buente

2016 was exciting for the Sustainable SITES Initiative—this year was all about GBCI launching SITES v2 and educating users on the SITES rating system and its associated products and offerings. As we look back and reflect on the many successes and milestones SITES experienced this year, we want to thank you for your commitment to sustainable landscape design, development and maintenance.

This year, SITES

  • Registered projects across the country and around the world, making SITES a truly global brand. The United States saw projects register in 21 states and the District of Columbia in 2016. In addition, registrations came in from Canada, India, China and Japan. 
  • Launched the SITES Accredited Professional (SITES AP) exam. Testing for the SITES AP exam is available at any Prometric location. The SITES AP establishes a common framework to define the profession of sustainable landscape design and development. It provides landscape professionals with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, expertise and commitment to the profession. Register for the exam to reserve your seat today.
  • Announced that the U.S. General Services Administration has adopted SITES for its capital construction program. GSA’s public buildings service is one of the largest and most diversified public real estate organizations in the world, with a portfolio of 376.9 million rentable square feet in 8,721 active assets, and more than 144,000 acres of land, including ports of entry and historical properties. The GSA determined that incorporating SITES into the program ensures a highly effective and efficient way to ensure environmental performance to meet federal goals on various capital project types.
  • Held educational events and workshops on SITES all over the country. Stay connected and learn more about SITES at one of our upcoming events by visiting our website

Just as LEED undeniably transformed the built environment, SITES has the ability to transform land development and use. 2017 is sure to be a year of growth for SITES—stay tuned for more!


Hi there,

as a landscaper and environmentalist I think it is very important that we have easy to understand guidelines and standards for doing ecologically responsible landscape design and maintenance.

Nevertheless, to truly make an impact and make the entire industry more 'green', I feel these standards need to be more readily available to the workers who want to make a difference.

At $3,000 USD just to register, the intelligence of the SITES standards will never be available to me.

Standard landscaping apprenticeship courses are still too conventional in their thinking and aimed more at aesthetics than environmental health. Meanwhile online resources can only go so far.

I realize that you are trying to make a profit, but to truly make a difference sustainability standards need to be made available to the average worker, not just the elite.

Thank you for your time and for starting the change!

Hi Maddie,
Thanks for your comments. At GBCI, our goal is to use the market to scale sustainability in the built and unbuilt environment. We certainly want to cultivate any interest that exists and support individuals like yourself who would like to make a difference. For that reason, the SITES Rating System, which outlines the principles of the sustainable SITES program is available for free download on this website. The more detailed Reference Guide is available for $219. We also have a number of educational webinars available free of charge or a small fee on this website and on the Education@USGBC platform.

The registration and certification fees, which you reference, are provided at a modest cost with the goal of providing third party verification on a projects design, construction, and performance. While we understand that for some projects the fee might be high, as nonprofit organization our goal is not to make money but to support the mission of scaling the sustainability movement as widely as possible and to cover our costs of a certification review.

We hope that you'll be able to utilize the resources available in the best way to suit your practice. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

Jamie Statter
VP, Strategic Relationships

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