Sustainable Sites

The process of designing, developing, and inhabiting the built environment has a profound influence on a community’s economy, environment, and quality of life. In the United States, buildings account for approximately 40 percent of total energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions, 13 percent of water use, and 160 million tons per year of construction and demolition (C&D) debris. Buildings also contain indoor air that can be 100 times more polluted than outside air.1 Additionally, unsustainable building practices can have unintended social and economic consequences including brownfields, sprawl, degraded local air quality, loss of farmland and open space, and health impacts due to decreased physical activity and access to healthy food. Sustainable design for the built environment challenges local officials, planners, developers, and architects to examine the connections between their buildings, the environment, and their communities. (from -- EPA’s Sustainable Design and Green Building Tool Kit) //

• Alternative transportation
• Pollution Prevention
• Environmental Site Assessment
• Alternative Transportation
• Protect or Restore Habitat
• Heat Island Effect, Non-Roof
• Heat Island Effect, Roof
• Light Pollution
• Joint Use of Facilities

Why Sustainable Sites
The services people enjoy from healthy ecosystems are the unobtrusive foundation of daily life. Yet people often underestimate or simply ignore the values from these "ecosystem services" when making land-use decisions— only to realize later how difficult, expensive, and sometimes impossible it is to replicate services once they are lost. The central message of the Sustainable Sites Initiative is that any landscape—whether the site of a large subdivision, a shopping mall, a park, an abandoned rail yard, or even one home—holds the potential both to improve and to regenerate the natural benefits and services provided by ecosystems in their undeveloped state.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative
A “site” is a built landscape that encompasses all land in a designated space. Like green buildings, sustainable sites use less energy, water and natural resources; generate less waste; and minimize the impact on the land compared to traditional design, construction and maintenance techniques. Unlike buildings, sustainable sites can even give back by cleaning the air and water, reversing climate change, restoring habitat and biodiversity – all while providing significant social and economic benefits as well to the immediate site and surrounding region.

Green Development and Sustainable Site Components

A diagram of what are the components of a sustainable site with a focus on Conventional vs Non Conventional elements. Develop over impacted or non-impacted land and the application of a “sustainable solution” strategy.

Sustainable Sites Credit
A building's location has a multitude of impacts to its surrounding area. Buildings in the LEED Rating System that develop within an existing dense infrastructure, enhance the preservation of a natural outdoor environment, and provide alternative transportation for its inhabitants may earn points toward certification.

Guiding Principles of Sustainable Design
Site design is a process of intervention involving the location of circulation, structures, and utilities, and making natural and cultural values available to visitors. The process encompasses many steps from planning to construction, including initial inventory, assessment, alternative analysis, detailed design, and construction procedures and services.

Sustainable Sites Resources

Ideas for sustainable land design construction and maintenance practices.

Global Footprint Network

Footprint Calculator

Green Communities

Sustainable Jersey

NJDEP, How to Become an Environmentally Sustainable Community - A primer

Smart Growth

California Division of State Architecture Sustainable Schools

Eco-Logical: An Ecosystem Approach to Developing Infrastructure Projects

Low Impact Development

Earth Lab

A Sampling of Environmental Web Sites

Nissan Leaf

Lesson Plans

Go Green Schoolyard
Plant a garden in your schoolyard! Kindergarteners work with high school business students to design, build, and maintain a natural habitat garden. The kindergartners work to design the garden, while the high schoolers figure out how to get it built.

Rain Gardens provide a simple, effective method of controlling stormwater that can also restore habitat.

Carbon Footprint Lesson Plans
Before exploring the science and consequences of carbon emissions, students need to know: Where does our energy come from? These exercises explain why the production of energy is connected to carbon —and why everyone is so hot about it.