Get the Points

Updated Feb 5, 2013
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Bioswale from a SITES certified project

A love of nature and concern for the environment are traits most every landscaping professional possesses. But applying sustainable practices to your business model may not come so naturally.

For example, yard waste represents 13 percent of total municipal waste nationwide, according to the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), profiled in our cover feature, pg. 31.

What if there were more incentives to re-cycle, re-purpose or compost such waste? Many landscaping professionals would gladly embrace solutions if they are made worth their while.

That’s where SITES comes in. The program, which began in 2005, aims to create voluntary national guidelines and benchmarks for sustainable landscaping. As you’ll learn in the article, the program will go public in coming months. And it may influence landscaping as its kindred program, LEED, has for architecture, but only if the guidelines are workable and make sense.

Some landscape architects, like Jim Davis, general manager of Landtech Design, an irrigation design and consulting firm in St. Louis, supports sustainability, but expresses concerns about the SITES irrigation guidelines.

“The LEED program and the fledgling SITES program give praise to projects that do not use irrigation,” he noted in an e-mail response to questions from TLC. “We are not convinced that ‘no irrigation’ necessarily creates a ‘green’ site.

The SITES program aims to create voluntary national guidelines and benchmarks for sustainable landscaping.

“To help a site flourish and to create a rich, lush, green environment, we think those groups should encourage responsible irrigation that uses the most state-of-the-art products, in an effort to water just the right amount, when it is needed,” he continues. “Many irrigation professionals would be more interested in becoming LEED/SITES certified if that mindset is adopted.”

This fall, the public will be invited to provide feedback that will be factored into the final version of SITES guidelines due mid-2013.

Our advice: learn more about SITES and how it might benefit your business in our article; then, make your voice heard.

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