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Sustainable SITES Initiative


SITES is a sustainable certification that applies to buildings as well as some other non-building spaces. SITES focuses on measurements rather than strict practices to score and certify projects. By looking at the unique features of each site, these projects reduce water demand, protect wildlife habitats, and improve human health and well-being. Types of projects SITES works for include open spaces, streetscapes and plazas, commercial, residential, and educational or institutional. GBCI created this certification system that provides performance measures rather than strict practices to be implemented, allowing for unique projects to be able to certify, with no need to renew certification. 

Sub-Rating Systems:

  • Open Spaces
  • Streetscapes and Plazas
  • Commercial
  • Residential
  • Educational/Institutional

Certification Focus Areas

Greenhouse gas emissions

Greenhouse Gas

energy efficiency


solar renewable energy

Solar Renewable

sustainable materials


lifecycle and facility management

Lifecycle & Facility

energy management systems

Energy Management

monitoring performance



Process And Cost Information:

SITES is able to work in tandem with LEED for projects interested in pursuing both, although it is not necessary to do both certifications. 

Pricing is discounted for USGBC and ASLA menbers, and each stage of the project is associated with a different fee. There is a registration fee, a pre-certification fee for projects that choose to do a pre-certification, and a certification fee. Projects are also able to combine registration and certification into one step for a slightly lowered cost. 

Start by registering a project with SITES Online. This will provide GBCI with basic project information. Next, project teams will submit relevant documentation for GBCI to review. There is an option for a split-review, in which three stages of review will take place. This allows for more feedback from GBCI. Projects are also able to have a single review and submit all documentation at once. GBCI will give a final review and determine whether or not the project will achieve certification. 

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