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Prairie Ridge Ecostation Will Test Sustainable Landscape Rating System

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES™) announced the selection of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences’ Prairie Ridge Ecostation 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.

Prairie Ridge Ecostation will join 174 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. Sustainable landscapes can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities.

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 Prairie Ridge Ecostation based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. A few of these sustainable practices include: harvesting rainwater on site, the use of solar energy, and the reconstruction of native Piedmont prairie habitat.

Prairie Ridge Ecostation joins the Flight 93 National Memorial, the Smithsonian Institution’s African American History & Culture museum 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 45-acre site was developed to create a landmark environmental education facility with the theme of sustainable water and energy use. 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 the award-winning Outdoor Classroom designed by local architect Frank Harmon. For more information, visit naturalsciences.org/prairie-ridge-ecostation.

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® Green Building Rating System™. More information is available at: http://www.sustainablesites.org. For general media queries about SITES, go to: www.sustainablesites.org/news/.