In September 2012, the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™) announced that the campus of SWT Design earned a two-star rating under the nation’s first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.
In May of 2010, SWT Design joined more than 150 other projects from 34 states as well as from Canada, Iceland and Spain as part of the international pilot project program to evaluate the new SITES rating system for sustainable landscapes, with and without buildings. Sustainable landscapes can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities.
“We embraced the Sustainable Sites Initiative from the beginning of the pilot program,” says Hunter Beckham, principal of SWT Design, “recognizing the influence and impact this would have not only in our profession, but also on our built environment and the future of sustainable design. We are very proud to be associated with SITES.”
SITES, a partnership 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, selected SWT Design campus based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. This adaptive-reuse project grafted a contemporary design office and studio addition on an existing Victorian house. The outdoor area modeled a number of sustainable practices, including managing 95 percent of rainwater on-site using a rain garden, roof garden, native Missouri plants, and pervious cover for 75 percent of the hardscape. Most recently, SWT Design added twenty 180 Watt monocrystalline solar panels to offset a percentage of the campus’ energy use. The panels produce approximately 4,300 kilowatts of energy per year, which is equivalent to running seven of our computer workstations for an average of eight hours per day.
Designed by Ted Spaid, Jim Wolterman and a collaboration of their employees, the campus was developed to improve the urban fabric of the community by creating a living laboratory and demonstration space for visitors. Like the other pilot projects, the site will test the point system for achieving different levels of site sustainability on a 250-point scale, and the performance benchmarks associated with specific credits within the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009.
SITES has used feedback from this and the other selected projects during the pilot phase, which ran through June 2012, intending to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the Sustainable Sites Initiative, anticipates incorporating the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future iterations of its LEED® Green Building Rating System™. More information is available at: www.sustainablesites.org.