"The Sustainable SITES Initiative™ is an interdisciplinary effort by 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 to create voluntary national guidelines and performance benchmarks for sustainable land design, construction and maintenance practices. The SITES™ program was created to promote sustainable land development and management practices that can apply to sites with and without buildings." The Bat Cave Draw and Visitor Center Rehabilitation at Carlsbad Caverns National Park was recently featured in an article on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website titled "Oh, What a Site."
The National Park Service submitted both as potential pilot projects in 2009, to test the sustainable development criteria contained in the Guidelines and Performance Benchmarks 2009 of the Sustainable SITES Initiative™ Pilot Program. Both were among more than 150 national and international projects selected to be part of the pilot process. Working closely with our National Park Service partners and other members of the project team, Landmark Design led the extensive documentation process required of the candidate projects in 2010.
The landscape at the Visitor and Research Center at Mesa Verde National Park focused on the use of locally-available materials, the use of native plant materials that are well-adapted to the tough conditions on site, and minimally amending soils to mimic the naturally occurring soil conditions found on the site. Other important design features included the inclusion of multiple opportunities for on-site power generation, the provision of preferred parking for carpool and alternative fuel vehicles, and the incorporation of visitor educational elements that highlight the sustainable features of the site and building and the cultural/natural history of the site and region.
Sustainable features of the Carlsbad Caverns National Park project include the singular use of plant materials from local genetic stock, the discontinuation of supplemental irrigation once plant materials were established, the use of salvaged materials and plants, and the use of locally-sourced construction materials. The preservation of a historic structure found on the site and the elimination of pollution sources are also notable sustainable contributions of the project.