Green Building Moves Outdoors

New Rating System to Encourage Sustainable Landscape Design


San Francisco, CA, October 6, 2007 — The American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), The University of Texas at Austin’s Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, and the United States Botanic Garden announced the development of a new rating system for sustainable landscape design, called the Sustainable Sites Initiative. The announcement took place at the 2007 ASLA EXPO in San Francisco, California.

Just as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® rating system measures a building’s environmental impact, the Sites Initiative will measure the sustainability of designed landscapes of all types, including public, commercial, and residential projects. The U.S. Green Building Council is lending its support to this project and plans to adopt the Sustainable Sites metrics into its LEED® system once they are finished.

“This will provide the missing link for green building standards,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President and CEO of ASLA. “Developers, designers, owners, and public officials will now have the tools at hand to significantly increase sustainability in the built environment, from interiors to landscapes.”

“We are acutely aware that the best guidelines and standards in the world will not be adopted if they are not cost-effective for builders and landowners,” said Frederick R. Steiner, FASLA, Dean of The University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture and a member of the Wildflower Center Advisory Council. “Sustainable landscapes have enormous environmental benefits, and any additional costs should be easily recovered over the life of the project in energy, water, and other savings.”

The U.S. Botanic Garden is extremely excited to be a part of the Sustainable Sites Initiative”, said Holly Shimizu, Executive Director of the Garden. “We recognize that through partnerships and collaborations we can make a much greater impact on promoting and guiding sustainable design, implementation, and management of gardens, landscapes, and all outdoor spaces. This initiative will help balance the built and natural environments for the long-term health of communities nationwide.”
Additional program partners include the U.S. Green Building Council, the Environmental Protection Agency’s GreenScapes Program, the National Recreation and Parks Association, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Environment and Water Resources Institute, the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the Nature Conservancy’s Global Invasive Species Initiative, and The Center for Sustainable Development at the University of Texas at Austin. For more information, visit

About the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to increasing the sustainable use and conservation of native plants and landscapes. Founded in 1982 by Lady Bird Johnson, the former first lady, the Wildflower Center maintains an extensive native plant botanic garden and offers professional and adult education. The Wildflower Center also conducts research on landscape restoration and plant conservation at its 279-acre site, promoting the role of native plants in addressing ecological problems. Recent research initiatives focus on native turf grasses, green roof technology in a sub-tropical climate, prairie restoration methods including prescribed fire, the control of invasive species, and ways in which native plants can aid in combating climate change in urban landscapes. Learn more at 

About the United States Botanic Garden

Dating from 1820, the United States Botanic Garden (USBG) is one of the oldest botanic gardens in North America. The Garden informs visitors about the importance and fundamental value of plants to the well-being of humans and our planet. It also highlights the diversity of plants worldwide, particularly their aesthetic, cultural, economic, therapeutic, and ecological significance. Formally placed under the jurisdiction of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress in 1856, the U.S. Botanic Garden is administered through the Office of the Architect of the Capitol in the Legislative Branch since 1934. With nearly a million visitors annually and located on the National Mall, the USBG strives to demonstrate and promote sustainable practices for individuals, organizations, and institutions. Learn more online at 


Kevin Fry
Director, PR and Communications 
tel: 1-202-216-2356