City of AustinFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Austin is the first city worldwide to incorporate the SITES rating system into local policy.
The City of Austin has reaffirmed its commitment to a more sustainable, resilient, and healthy place for community members to call home through adoption of a Sustainable SITES Initiative certification requirement for Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) projects. Austin is the first city worldwide to incorporate the rating system into local policy and has more participating SITES projects than anywhere in the world.
SITES is a comprehensive rating system and framework for developing sustainable landscapes, modeled after Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and developed in Austin through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of the American Society of Landscape Architects, The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden. SITES is now owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc.
For decades, the City of Austin has been a pioneer in the green building movement and has led the way in developing sustainable building standards. In 1991, Austin Energy Green Building created the first rating system in the U.S. for evaluating the sustainability of buildings. In 1995, the City of Austin became a founding member of the U.S. Green Building Council and supported the development of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system (LEED), the most widely used green building rating system in the world.
In 2000, the Austin City Council voted to approve a Green Building Policy Resolution making Austin one of the first two cities to mandate LEED Silver certification for all future City buildings. Two decades later, the City of Austin continues to champion sustainable development. In September 2021, the Council adopted yet another pioneering Green Building Policy Resolution that includes Sustainable SITES Initiative certification for park projects.
For those involved in landscape architecture, Austin’s leadership may not come as a surprise. The Austin area currently has 19 participating SITES projects – more than any other metropolitan area in the world. In 2021, Kingsbury Commons at Pease District Park achieved SITES Gold certification. The Waterloo Greenway Confluence project, which begins construction later this year, is on track for SITES Gold certification, and several other park and aquatic facility projects are actively working toward certification.
“The City of Austin was one of the first in the world to formally adopt LEED and is now proud to continue its leadership in sustainability and green building by being the first to adopt SITES certification standards for our significant park projects,” said Lucia Athens, the City of Austin’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “Our parks and green spaces knit together the fabric of our communities, providing a foundation for human and environmental health.”
“By using the SITES framework to guide the development of our landscape projects, PARD hopes to improve quality of life and human health by supporting and regenerating our ecosystem and built environment,” said Liana Kallivoka, PhD, PE, LEED Fellow, and PARD’s Assistant Director overseeing capital improvement projects. “Clean air and water, and a thriving ecosystem are essential to the health and well-being of humans and all life around us.”
“SITES is a globally recognized and implemented leadership standard, but its roots are in Austin,” noted Danielle Pieranunzi, SITES Director. “As an Austin resident myself, I’m proud to see the city acting on its commitment to a more sustainable, ecologically resilient future for its community members to enjoy.”
To learn more about the City of Austin’s LEED and SITES projects, please visit the Office of the City Architect at leedatx.com.
About the Office of Sustainability
The City of Austin’s Office of Sustainability works to ensure a thriving, equitable and ecologically resilient community by providing leadership, influencing positive action through engagement, and creating measurable benefits for Austin. The Office works to achieve net-zero community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, a healthy and just local food system, resource-efficient strategies for municipal operations, tangible projects that demonstrate sustainability and a resilient and adaptive city. Find out more at austintexas.gov/sustainability.
About Austin Parks and Recreation
Austin Parks and Recreation seeks to inspire our community to learn, play, protect and connect by creating diverse programs and experiences in sustainable natural spaces and public places. This City of Austin Department protects and maintains parkland, urban forest, and trails as well as offering sports, recreation, educational enrichment, arts programs, cultural opportunities, and nature and aquatic activities for Austinites. For more information, visit AustinTexas.gov/Parks and follow @AustinCityParks.
About Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI)
GBCI is the world’s leading sustainability and health certification and credentialing body. Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating systems, as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL Building Standard, the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES), EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies), TRUE certification for zero waste and Investor Confidence Project (ICP) for energy efficiency retrofits. Visit gbci.org.