University of Michigan-Flint

University of Michigan-Flint News

Urban Alternatives House Will Test Sustainable Landscape Rating System

  • May 25th, 2010 By: UM-Flint News

The Skinny

The University of Michigan-Flint’s Urban Alternatives House has been selected 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 selection was made by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™).

The University of Michigan-Flint’s Urban Alternatives House has been selected 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 selection was made by the Sustainable Sites Initiative™ (SITES™).


SITES selected the Urban Alternatives House based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements. These sustainable practices include: removing invasive trees from the site, developing a landscape that includes space for food production, native plantings, rain gardens and managing rainwater on site.

The Urban Alternatives House will join more than 150 other pilot projects from 34 states as well as from 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.

“Working with the Sustainable Sites Initiatives (SITES) team and the other pilot projects around the country will give us the opportunity to take advantage of cutting edge expertise as we develop the garden site at the Urban Alternatives House,” said UM-Flint Associate Richard Hill-Rowley. “It will also be a way for us to contribute to refining a new set of guidelines and benchmarks that will improve the sustainability of urban landscapes across the country.”

The Urban Alternatives House joins the Smithsonian Institution’s African American History & Culture museum, a New Orleans’s project to absorb storm water on the streets of the Lower Ninth Ward flooded during Hurricane Katrina, and other pilot projects that range in size from large scale academic and corporate campuses and public parks with hundreds of acres, to small scale transportation corridors and private residences of less than one acre.

SITES is 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.

For more information: UM-Flint to Transform Abandoned House into Urban Laboratory

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