Three-Star Certified Pilot Project

Location: St. Charles, Missouri
Project Size: 9 acres
Project Type: Commercial 
Site Context: Suburban
Former Land Use: Greyfield
Terrestrial Biome: Temperate Grasslands, Savannas and Shrublands
Budget: Confidential
photo by: SWT Design

Project Overview

Novus International is a global leader in animal health and nutrition with a strong emphasis on corporate social responsibility and sustainability. Sustainability at Novus is founded on the triple bottom line: social, economic, and environmental factors. The company’s global headquarters, located at the Missouri Research Park in St. Charles, Missouri, is a nine-acre site that has been developed to a new standard for sustainable site design. The intent of the campus master plan is to preserve and enhance natural habitats, focus on improving vegetation and hydrology of the site, and create an active and healthy environment that employees can be proud of and inspired to interact in. The project addresses several sustainable design best practices including hydrology, wildlife habitat enhancement and monitoring, improved soils and vegetation. There is an emphasis on using regional materials and implementing features that address human health and well-being of site visitors and employees.

Regional Context

The site is in the Central Missouri region and experiences four distinct seasons with cool to cold winters and long hot summers. It is in the Missouri River Watershed and typically receives 34 inches of precipitation per year. The geology of the region consists of primarily Clay, Limestone, and Shale, and the topography is typical of the upper bluffs and rolling woodland of the Missori River area. The outdoor dining patio and lounge area

SITES Features + Practices

Some of the notable sustainable features at Novus include the entire hydrological system, various native habitat improvement areas, energy offsets for the site features, and increased health and well-being of the employees engaging the site. These efforts could lead to employee retention that directly affects the sustainability of Novus operations.

Persistence and hard work communicating the overarching message of SITES as it relates to the business of Novus were key strategies that earned SITES credits. Obtaining team and stakeholder buy-in early in the process allowed for a consistent message to be told and the standards to be adopted. Celebrating the process and achievements throughout the project with public engagement also helped shed a positive light on the effort and educate a pool of diverse professional not associated with the design and construction industry.

Through an extensive stakeholder group, the design team developed a very strong interest in monitoring all of the various improvements that were being targeted. The project team is also very proud of the increased programming that spun out of the site design effort. This allows for exposure to an entire new demographic of people who now have a better understanding of what landscape architecture can do to improve their daily lives.


The integrated team and stakeholder groups were instrumental in the success of this project. Input early and often allowed the design narrative to develop and inspire the client to continue to push for a highly visible and sustainable project.

Maintenance + Stewardship

The construction standards that were put forth along with the extensive maintenance manual shared between Novus and the maintenance contractor will close the loop and ensure that the design goals are met and the maintenance expectations continue on in perpetuity.

The client will monitor some issues internally with the interest groups that developed out of the project, and partnerships with organizations such as the St. Louis Zoo invertebrates department, University of Missouri extension service and others that continue to show interest in the scientific side of the project will add to the research-based effort that Novus puts towards their corporate vision.

The adjacent communities were invited to engage the process through outreach and are very pleased with the success of the project. The stakeholders that were involved are also pursuing SITES strategies in various forms. These groups include MoDOT, Great Rivers Greenway, University of Missouri, Weldon Spring, St. Charles Watershed District, among others. The exposure from this process is currently having positive affects on Missouri Botanical Gardens, St. Louis Zoo, and Forest Park. The vegetated bioswale in the Novus parking lot

Site Challenges

The biggest site challenge was taking a pre-existing greyfield site and restoring the soil condition to one that was conducive to regenerative habitats.

Project Goals + Successes

The overall objective of the project was to achieve SITES certification by addressing the specific design intent and goals of each section within the Guidelines. The project team wanted to leave no stone unturned, so to speak, and use the Guidelines thoroughly for every aspect of the project effort. By doing this, we were able to integrate the project team and client early in the process and develop a final product that will be maintained far into the future.
The main motivation for pursuing SITES certification was the sustainable corporate culture and mission of Novus. The primary objective was to integrate their sustainable philosophies into the campus site design.

Some of the key project successes include improved habitat and user satisfaction for employees and the community, as well as raising the standard for site design with associated stakeholder organizations. The latter is continuing to develop and may affect change to the regional greenway system, the state highway department and the University of Missouri system of research parks across the state.

Lessons Learned

The Materials Selection section was challenging. Many manufacturers were not equipped at the time to provide necessary data to accomplish credit success. Credits related to issues that do not exist on site (i.e. brownfield conditions and naturally occurring water bodies) also contributed to reducing the overall point total.

Most of all, SITES certification has allowed for the conversation to be elevated - not only the design dialog about how to provide sustainable site solutions, but also the conversations with contractors, material producers and manufacturers, as well as those that will be maintaining projects after completion. Going through this experience has improved the overall communication strategies that will greatly impact the approach for future projects.

Project Team

SWT Design
Hunter Beckham, Project Manager
Ted Spaid, Lead Designer
Zach Snovelle, SITES Production Leader
Chris Moon, Project Construction Coordinator
Carrie Coyne, Project Horticulturist

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