BSC Office of Communications

News from the Hilltop

May 25, 2010

Birmingham-Southern environmental park will test sustainable landscape rating system

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.-The Urban Environmental Park at Birmingham-Southern College was selected as one of the first landscapes to participate in a new program testing the nation's first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance in The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). The park will join 150 other pilot projects from 34 states as well as from Canada, Iceland and Spain as part of an international pilot project program to evaluate the new SITES rating system for sustainable landscapes, with and without buildings.Birmingham-Southern environmental park

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 the BSC Urban Environmental Park based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. These sustainable practices include managing rainwater on site and using native and site appropriate plants. The park joins the Smithsonian Institution's African American History & Culture museum, a New Orleans' project to absorb storm water on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and other projects that include academic and corporate campuses, public parks with hundreds of acres, transportation corridors and private residences of less than one acre.

The BSC Urban Environmental Park was designed by Derck & Edson Associates, LLP and constructed by JOHNSONKREIS Construction Co., Inc. The 22-acre site was developed to provide an outdoor leisure area for students and to create a living laboratory and teaching venue for students of the new and innovative urban environmental studies major at the college and the community at large. 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. The site's other sustainability features include a series of rain gardens which capture and filter storm water runoff from an existing parking lot, the protection and restoration of native habitats for plant and bird species, and a lighting design which reduces light pollution.

SITES will use feedback from this and the other selected projects during the pilot phase, which runs through June 2012, 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(r) Green Building Rating System(tm). More information is available at:

SITES is an interdisciplinary partnership to transform land development and management practices with the nation's first voluntary rating system for sustainable landscapes, with or without buildings.

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