Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Pease Park Kingsbury Commons Wins Gold Under the Sustainable SITES Initiative

Kingsbury Commons Project at Pease Park Awarded SITES Gold
for Achievement in Landscape Sustainability
Pease Park Conservancy announced the recently completed Kingsbury Commons project was awarded Gold under the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) rating system. Owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SITES is the most comprehensive program for designing, developing, and maintaining sustainable landscapes. This designation puts Pease Park in an elite group of local green spaces and makes it the first park in the Austin Parks and Recreation Department (PARD) portfolio to be SITES certified.
With generous support from the Moody Foundation and other key donors, Pease Park Conservancy, in partnership with PARD, managed the $10 million renovation of Kingsbury Commons, the southern 7-acres of Pease Park, that concluded in July of 2021. Ten Eyck Landscape Architects was the lead designer for the Kingsbury Commons project and sustainability was integral in each decision made. A few examples include:
  • Installation of native plants that will use less water and provide wildlife habitats
  • Reclamation of natural spring water to support the ecosystem of the park
  • Reuse of salvaged materials to reduce environmental impacts from manufacturing, transportation, and waste disposal
  • Restoration of the soil prior to planting to sustainably support vegetation
"Accessibility for all people and sustainability were our two most important core values for this project," said Heath Riddles, Pease Park Conservancy CEO. "We are proud to be moving the needle on both fronts. The SITES certification reflects how serious the Conservancy is about creating spaces that are beautiful and sustainable, while also contributing to the community's overall well-being."
"We designed Kingsbury Commons to be beautiful and functional now and in the future. We created a natural landscape that will thrive here, and then we incorporated the structural elements of the park into that natural landscape," said Christy Ten Eyck, lead designer on the Kingsbury Commons project.
The SITES rating system is based on the understanding that land is a crucial part of our built environment and by fostering its resiliency we elevate its economic, environmental, and social benefits. SITES provides best practices and benchmarks projects against performance criteria, enabling the market to quantify and rate the sustainable use and performance of land sites. Used by landscape architects, engineers, architects, developers, and policy makers, SITES promotes regenerative systems and fosters resiliency; ensures future resource supply and mitigates climate change; transforms the market through design, development, and maintenance practices; and enhances human wellbeing. SITES-certified projects are better able to withstand and recover from floods, droughts, wildfires, and other catastrophic events.
Heather Venhaus, Principal with Regenerative Environmental Design, said "The Kingsbury Commons project helps to create an ecologically resilient community here in Austin, reducing water demand, improving air quality, and helping connect people with each other and nature."
Liana Kallivoka, PARD Assistant Director, shared, "We are excited to have Kingsbury Commons be the first City of Austin park project to earn the prestigious SITES Gold certification. Kingsbury Commons was designed to allow visitors of all ages to enjoy the space, while promoting physical and social activity and mental restoration. The benefits of this project go well beyond sustainable and resilient landscapes and will serve as a model for future parks projects in the City of Austin."
SITES was developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort 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. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings and draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Learn more at www.sustainableSITES.org.
About Pease Park and Pease Park Conservancy
Pease Park Conservancy was formed in 2008 and celebrates the diverse ecology and history that make Austin's first public park valuable and unique. The Conservancy works to restore, enhance and maintain this 84-acre public green space for the sustainable use and enjoyment of all. Unfolding across 84 acres, Pease Park is a series of connected green spaces running along Lamar Boulevard from West 15th to West 31st Streets, providing residents and visitors alike with an intimate, yet sprawling, natural amenity. Owned by the City of Austin, Pease Park is a public district park, maintained, operated, and programmed by Pease Park Conservancy, in partnership with the Austin Parks and Recreation Department.
About Green Business Certification Inc.
Green Business Certifications Inc. (GBCI) is the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED green building rating systems, as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL building standard, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), Parksmart, EDGE and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green business practices, which fosters global competitiveness and enhances environmental performance and human health benefits.