GreenWorks Brings the SITES Certification to Oregon

Most of us are familiar with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. It’s a framework created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) used to make efficient, healthy, and cost-saving buildings. We’re excited to introduce you to a new framework from USGBC that compliments LEED projects with comprehensive landscape and site design—and we’re the first firm in Oregon to offer it.

See how the SITES-certified Bartholdi Park in Washington DC has become a model for sustainable landscape design and development.

USGBC describes SITES as a “comprehensive rating system designed to distinguish sustainable landscapes, measure their performance over time, and evaluate their value.” GreenWorks designers Margot Halpin and Jason King are currently the only two certified SITES professionals in Oregon. This expertise means the GreenWorks team has state-of-the-art techniques and an improved ecological focus for any project we work on—no matter the scale or scope.

Projects eligible for SITES certification include things like open spaces, streetscapes, and plazas, as well as residential, commercial, or institutional projects. To attain SITES certification, a designer must prove the following elements were the focus during the design process:

Human Health & Well-being

  • Providing site accessibility

  • Supporting mental restoration

  • Encouraging physical activity

  • Social connection

  • Providing on-site food production

Responsible Construction

  • Controlling and retaining construction pollutants

  • Restoring soil disturbed during construction and previous development

  • Protecting air quality during construction

Operations and Maintenance

  • Recycling organic matter

  • Planning for sustainable site maintenance

 Performance Monitoring

Site Context

  • Limiting development on farmland

  • Protecting floodplains  

  • Conserving habitat

Water

  • Managing precipitation on site

  • Restoring aquatic ecosystems

Soil and Vegetation

  • Creating a soil management plan

  • Conserving healthy soils

  • Optimizing biomass

Material Selection

  • Reusing salvaged materials

  • Using regional materials

  • Designing for adaptability and disassembly

A SITES certified project means more sustainable site performance in the long run. Specifications in SITES set an even higher standard than most LEED projects. These improvements come from things like redevelopment of urban spaces instead of farms, wild lands, or wetlands; habitat requirements based on results of site diversity surveys instead of site size; mapping and creating soil protection zones; and prioritizing universal access.

The Greenworks team has been a leader in the resilient design industry, creating sustainable places since we started in 1987. SITES knowledge is just another innovative way we sustainably design everything we do.

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Margot Halpin

“The SITES certification is a way to deepen my focus on ecological design, and the SITES framework helped me grasp practical and tangible design solutions to make that a reality.”

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Jason King

“It demonstrates my personal and professional commitment to ecological design principles, to become more informed on the key strategies of the SITES system, and to use the principles to help clients realize higher levels of sustainable site performance on all projects.”