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The author of the article called A LEED-Inspired Model for Landscapes, Robert Nieminen explores the environmental issues related to the design of landscapes. The author begins by making a statement that LEED rating and certification systems facilitated a significant improvement in the sphere of buildings design forcing the constructors to adopt more sustainable practices, reduce the amount of waste, and fight the high levels of emission (Nieminen par. 1-3). These changes are recognized as highly beneficial for the society as well as the environment that is already undergoing a potentially dangerous climate change.
A rating system similar to that of LEED is now created for the landscape design; it is called the Sustainable SITES Initiative and administered by the same agency that implements LEED (Nieminen par. 4). SITES shares its point-based framework with LEED; practically, the projects are to match a list of requirements for which they are given points; the number of points collected by a project defines whether or not it will be certified (Nieminen par. 6-7). This strategy is effective because the criteria for points are selected specifically to make the projects aim for the best sustainable practices. Besides, it is applicable to the sites of many different kinds such as open space (national parks, city parks), urban (streetscapes), or professional and residential (homes, offices, infrastructure) (Nieminen par. 7). The landscapes designed with the help of this system are sustainable, functional, and regenerative.
The projects are rated according to about 50 different categories and can earn as many as 200 points; the number of points indicates the effect a project produces on the environment in terms of restoration and protection of the natural resources, eco-systems, resiliency and regeneration (Nieminen par. 11). A single project may even qualify for both SITES and LEED systems if it combines landscapes and buildings (Nieminen par. 12). The sites certified by these systems turn out rather beneficial in terms of sustainability, human health, consumption of running water and electricity, opportunities for recreational activities, and the quality of air (Nieminen par. 13). In addition, the project officials anticipate the improvements in the certified sites’ maintenance and operations (though, unfortunately, there is not enough data to calculate them precisely at the moment) (Nieminen par. 14).
The Initiative’s Relevance to Facilities Management
In terms of the benefits for the Facilities Management, the systems such as LEED and SITES are rather beneficial. The primary advantage of these certification frameworks is that they successfully combine the criteria for the environmental sustainability and those for functionality and convenience. In the contemporary world where the process of globalization has facilitated the popularization of the environmental concerns, every business begins to take into consideration the fact that engaging in unsustainable and harmful practices may and will hurt their reputation and minimize their revenues. That way, the initiatives such as SITES and LEED are going to gain success and attract many new projects searching for alternative ways of managing their property, resources, and facilities.
In my opinion, it is quite a clever idea to encourage the businesses to follow the environmentally sustainable standards using the benefits they gain from it as a reward. It looks like the business people had to see the positive results in practice in order to become interested in pursuing the higher standards. Also, I find it interesting how social trends are able to produce such strong effect on business initiatives. It took quite a while for the world to begin reacting to the global climate change. However, the public opinion matters in the globalizing world; and this tendency results in a variety of changes. Moreover, the initiatives such as LEED and SITES seem like perfect guidance for the constructors willing to pursue the responsible standards but do not know which practices are better and which aspects need to be taken into consideration. The systems of rating provide a set of actions and decisions the constructors need to make in order to remain sustainable.
Strengths and Weaknesses
First of all, both of the initiatives (LEED and SITES) have a primary objective targeting the sustainability of the construction and city planning projects. This is definitely the strong side of the systems. Besides, the end results have proven to be beneficial for the environment and the employees. However, it is a known fact that the major goal of any business is the maximization of income. This is why, in case if such projects turn out expensive or challenging to accomplish in terms of cost-effectiveness, the owners would be likely to avoid the initiatives and fail to follow through with the sustainability standards. This aspect can be recognized as a major weakness of the approach. Besides, another weak spot is the absence of evidence-based data concerning the maintenance and operations of the LEED and SITES-certified projects. This information could become extremely helpful providing the encouragement for the future projects and constructions to comply with the sustainability norms. The author’s work on the article and the way he presented the material can be complemented for clarity and visibility due to the use of tables and headings. The work is logically broken down into parts and reflects all the most necessary aspects of the subject.
Nieminen, Robert. A LEED-Inspired Model for Landscapes. 2016. Web.