The Potential of SITES for Urban Design

Authored by: Frederick Steiner , Rebecca S. Popowsky

The New Companion to Urban Design

Print publication date:  May  2019
Online publication date:  June  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138302129
eBook ISBN: 9780203731932
Adobe ISBN:


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Cities and communities around the world face increasingly difficult challenges in addressing the ever-rising demand for clean water and air, open space, and wildlife habitat. The Sustainable Sites Initiative was based on the understanding that landscapes are a crucial element of the built environment and can be designed and maintained to avoid, mitigate, and even reverse the common detrimental impacts of development and climate change. The initiative resulted in a new rating system called SITES. Unlike buildings that typically depreciate over time, sustainable landscapes appreciate in value by continuing to provide multiple benefits such as managing stormwater, conserving resources, reducing pollution, and improving human health and well-being. Whether the site is an urban plaza, city park, university campus, or corporate headquarters, landscapes can be ecologically resilient places better able to withstand and recover from episodic floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events. Using an ecosystem services framework, the SITES Rating System is presented as an effective approach to conventional site-design practices in urban places.

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