A Case Study of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES): Will Municipalities Embrace SITES to Guide Future Development?

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The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) is attempting to become the benchmark certification for sustainable landscape development in the United States. Currently in pilot, the SITES 2009 Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks are expected to be revised by November 2013, at which time SITES will begin open enrollment. In 2009, Sarasota County, Florida converted a capped and closed landfill into a public park, Rothenbach Park. This park is home to a long list of sustainable features and is the winner of a 2010 American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) Excellence in Environmental Engineering Award in Sustainability. Through a case study of Rothenbach Park, this study attempts to determine if SITES adequately measures landscape sustainability and if SITES will be attractive to municipal policy makers as a guide for green development. The case study included a SITES score of Rothenbach Park using the 2009 SITES Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks. Input from six landscape sustainability experts, public records, and information provided by four Sarasota County officials involved with the development of Rothenbach Park were used to prepare the score. While Rothenbach Park scored well (estimated at a two star rating), there were areas for potential improvement, and recommendations are provided for improvement to park and county sustainable landscape practices. Feedback from Sarasota County officials about SITES was generally positive. The consensus was that SITES is an excellent tool for assessing landscape sustainability and would be useful as a tool for guiding development. However, in a time of limited local government resources, it is going to be important for SITES to become an educational support resource for municipalities to embrace its guidelines. Recommendations are provided to further that goal. Finally, communities like Sarasota County can benefit from SITES as a complement to existing sustainable development commitments. Potential policy tools to allow assimilation of SITES and its guiding principles into county land development are discussed.





Howley, Jesse (2013). A Case Study of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES): Will Municipalities Embrace SITES to Guide Future Development?. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/6848.

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