Adkins Arboretum Native Garden Gateway Will Test Sustainable Landscape Rating System


The Sustainable Sites Initiative(TM) (SITES) has announced the selection of Adkins Arboretum's Native Garden Gateway 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.

The Arboretum will join more than 150 other projects in 34 states and 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 the Native Garden Gateway based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. These sustainable practices include: managing rainwater on site, protecting and restoring soil conditions, and restoring native habitat.

The Arboretum joins the Smithsonian Institution's African American History & Culture museum, a New Orleans project to absorb stormwater on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and other pilot projects that include academic and corporate campuses, public parks with hundreds of acres, transportation corridors and private residences of less than one acre.

The Native Garden Gateway was designed by the landscape architecture firm of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. and is associated with the renovation and expansion of the Arboretum Visitor's Center, designed by Lake Flato Architects. The eight-acre site will be a model for sustainable site development and will demonstrate how low impact stormwater management techniques that support natural systems can replace conventional piped stormwater systems. 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 rainwater harvesting for irrigation and extensive use of salvaged and recycled materials.

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 (TM). More information is available at For general media queries about SITES, go to

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. Through its Campaign to Build a Green Legacy, the Arboretum will build a new LEED-certified Arboretum Center and redesign its entrance to broaden educational offerings and public outreach initiatives promoting best practices in conservation and land stewardship. For additional information about Arboretum programs, visit"> or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.