For many of us, January isn’t exactly the month to think about gardening and landscaping projects. Not at all. I can hardly fathom going outside. But at the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C., things, so to speak, are blossoming. The New York Times reports that the USBG -- an institution that can trace its history back to 1816 –- will serve as the model for the Sustainable Sites Initiative. Three years in the making, this joint collaboration between the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, the American Society of Landscape Architects, and the USBG proposes a system of national guidelines for sustainable landscaping as well as a point system -- not too dissimilar from LEED ratings for buildings –- that will rate the sustainability of landscaping around buildings.

If the suggested landscaping rating scheme is incorporated into the existing LEED system (backers of the initiative are hoping for a 2011 launch date), a building project in its entirety, not just building materials, will be scrutinized for sustainability.

Says Ray Mims, a developer of the initiative:

You could get a platinum-certified building and potentially do a very poor job with the site. We want to make sure that you look at the soil, the vegetation, the hydrology, so that you are improving -- or certainly not harming -- the natural ecosystem.

Read the full article here and find out what in the world is in bloom at the USBG…you’ll be surprised.

Via [NY Times]

Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Green acres
The United States Botanic Garden serves as a "greenprint" for the new Sustainable Sites Initiative.