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SITES Certification

Why does sustainability matter for landscapes?

Population growth and development are causing our communities to use more resources than ever before, which means more waste and a negative impact on the environment. Traditional land development and land use decisions often underestimate or ignore healthy ecosystems. Sustainable land development is cost effective, better for the land and fosters resiliency.

Through thoughtful design and management, landscapes can be developed to help sustain the natural world we live in by incorporating native vegetation, healthy soils and existing ecosystems. Our communities depend on the functions of ecosystems, which have nutrient-rich soil and provide us with clean air and water.


Landscapes, infrastructure and buildings are often designed without regard to their harmful impacts on scarce resources, underlying ecological systems and quality of life in the community.

The Sustainable SITES Initiative aims to weave development of healthy natural ecosystems with the landscape of daily human activity, via the spaces and places we inhabit, by providing a systematic, comprehensive set of guidelines to model development practices after healthy systems and processes.

Sustainable landscapes provide ecosystem services and create ecologically resilient communities better able to withstand and recover from floods, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events. SITES-certified landscapes additionally help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitat, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality, improve human health and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.

The SITES certification process allows projects to benchmark against performance criteria. The process is performed through SITES Online, which is a clean and easy tool to allow for easy documentation. SITES Online also helps with managing the SITES project team and tracking the project from start to finish.

What’s the process like to achieve SITES certification?

The SITES Rating System is a 200-point system with four certification levels of achievement (projects must meet a minimum of 70 points to achieve certification). The 18 prerequisites within the rating system are required, plus the minimum number of credits to achieve the required certification level.

A SITES certification involves registering the project with the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI); working through the SITES prerequisites and credits through a process with an integrated design team; applying for SITES certification by submitting a completed certification application and paying the fee; and receiving the certification decision after the formal review process is complete.

Please visit the Guide to SITES certification for more information.

Who certifies SITES projects?

Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) administers a SITES certification. GBCI is the only certification and credentialing body within the green business and sustainability industry to exclusively administer project certifications and professional credentials and certificates of LEED, PEER, WELL, SITES and GRESB.

What fees are involved if I want to register my project for SITES certification?

Registration and certification fees are flat, not based on project size. View our fee table.

What are the eligibility requirements to apply for a SITES certification?

The SITES Rating System can apply to development projects located on sites with or without buildings. Your site must have been constructed within the last two years and be at least 2,000 square feet in order to be eligible to apply for a SITES certification. Eligible sites include:

  • Open spaces: local, state and national parks; botanic gardens; arboretums
  • Streetscapes and plazas
  • Parking lots
  • Commercial: retail and office areas; corporate campuses
  • Residential: neighborhoods or individual yards
  • Educational/Institutional: public and private campuses; museums; hospitals
  • Infrastructure
  • Government
  • Military
  • Industrial parks
  • Golf courses
  • Cemeteries
How do I get started with SITES?

To get started with SITES, your project team may want to view:

  • The SITES Rating System is available for download; this free download includes the SITES v2 rating system, a complete set of prerequisites and credits used to measure site sustainability, and a corresponding scorecard.
  • The Guide to SITES certification describes the certification process and also includes information on fees.
  • The SITES v2 Reference Guide contains the v2 Rating System plus additional information for projects pursuing certification, including what submittal documentation is needed to meet the requirements, guidance on how to do calculations and prepare documentation, resources and additional definitions.
  • The SITES webinar series provides an overview of the SITES program and the benefits of sustainable landscapes.
My project has been certified. How can I promote or market the certification?

Review our PR Guidelines for ways to promote your project's recent certification.

What resources are available to help educate my client about SITES?

In addition to the SITES v2 Rating System and Reference Guide, please download a copy of our complimentary slide presentation called the SITES Client Deck that outlines the business case for SITES.

How do I stay up-to-date with SITES?

We'd love to have you join our mailing list to receive the most up-to-date information about SITES. Visit www.sustainablesites.org and enter your name and email address at the bottom of the page to subscribe to our monthly updates.

What are the benefits of SITES?

For environmental designers, their clients, and the general public, SITES offers several significant benefits and values:

  • SITES advances best practices in landscape architecture and other environmental design professions,
  • SITES may help design professionals fulfill their health, safety, and welfare responsibilities for licensure,
  • clients can be assured that their project has achieved rigorous, field-tested standards for sustainability,
  • clients can market the SITES certification of their projects (as many do for the LEED® green building program), and
  • SITES is ethically responsible, protects natural systems for present-day use and appreciation, and preserves ecosystems and their essential services for future generations.
What type of support is provided by GBCI for SITES Project Teams?

In short, we:

  • provide the SITES v2 Rating System, Scorecard, and in-depth SITES v2 Reference Guide full of resources
  • offer case studies on our website
  • answer questions via email at any time (via sites@gbci.org)
  • after registration, we offer access to worksheets and calculators, SITES Online portal and provide one-on-one, project-specific support
  • we assist teams outside of the US to create equivalent requirements
  • we assist project teams pursuing both SITES and LEED
  • offer optional pre-review calls with GBCI reviewers (email sites@gbci.org to schedule)
  • provide SITES review results
  • post certification - we provide a Certificate, press kit, press release and feature the project prominently on our website.

GBCI provides support to project teams pursuing SITES certification throughout the process—from pre-design through post-certification—through a variety of tools and project-specific one-on-one support. Our team will work with project teams to help identify local resources, answer eligibility and prerequisite requirements and field technical questions. At each stage of review, project teams have the opportunity to speak directly with their reviewer. Post certification, GBCI provides a SITES Certificate along with review comments, a press release and media kit to help celebrate the successes of a project team. SITES Certified projects are then listed on our website and showcased through our PR team.

Can my international project apply for SITES?

Yes, SITES may be applied worldwide and we'd love to have projects from outside of the United States participate in SITES certification. Our team is more than happy to work with project teams on a one-on-one basis to adapt US references, standards and guidelines to localized resources, where applicable. 

Is there an option in SITES to certify plans and intended strategies?

A project team can choose to have GBCI review their project’s plans and intended design and construction strategies to see how it aligns with SITES criteria rather than, or prior to a full certification review. This review pathway is called Precertification and it is available to all SITES registered projects for a fee.

We offer precertification to help you determine which credits and prerequisites your project is likely to achieve during the full review, to demonstrate your commitment to site sustainability and resilience. It can also help market the unique and valuable features of your project to attract community support, funders and even influence permitting in some localities. For more information, please contact sites@gbci.org.

What is SITES Precertification*, and how does it work?

Precertification* is an optional review pathway available for all SITES registered projects. We offer precertification to help you determine which credits and prerequisites your project is likely to achieve during the full review, to demonstrate your commitment to site sustainability and resilience. It can also help market the unique and valuable features of your project to attract community support, funders and even influence permitting in some localities.

The project will receive a SITES Precertification Worksheet to guide the process. The Precertification Worksheet allows you to decide your compliance path for each required prerequisite and each credit that you will be pursuing. In the worksheet, you’ll also describe your strategy for meeting the requirements of that credit and the pathway that you’ve chosen. You will also complete your preliminary scorecard to demonstrate which and how many points you will be pursuing. Once the compliance pathway and strategy for all prerequisites and pursued credits (must be enough to achieve certification) has been approved by GBCI, the project will achieve SITES Precertification.

A Precertified project can also choose to continue to full certification to demonstrate their leadership in site sustainability and resilience for their built project, and to join the growing number of SITES certified projects around the world. For more information, please contact sites@gbci.org

*Please note that precertification expires three years after achievement.


What is a SITES AP?

A SITES AP is an individual who possesses the knowledge and skills necessary to support the SITES certification process, including participating in the design and development process, supporting and encouraging integrated design, managing the application and certification process, and providing advocacy and education for the adoption of SITES.

What language is the SITES AP exam available in?

The SITES AP exam is available in English.

How do I register for the SITES AP exam?

Log in to your SITES Online account using your existing USGBC site user account or creating a new account if you do not have one.

When you register for the exam, make sure your name is entered exactly as it appears on the legal ID that you will use when you take your exam. If your native language utilizes non-Roman characters, be sure to use Roman characters when entering your name in your site-user account and when registering for the exam.

How do I schedule my SITES AP exam?

Once registered, you will be redirected to prometric.com/gbci to schedule your exam to take it either at a Prometric Test Center or as a remotely proctored online exam.

After you successfully schedule your exam appointment, you will see a 16-digit confirmation number on the screen, and you will also receive an auto-generated email from Prometric. Record your confirmation number. You will need this confirmation number to confirm, cancel or reschedule your exam appointment.

How do I schedule my exam if I want to go to a Prometric test center?

If you would like to take your exam at a Prometric test center near you, you can search for a test center near you here. Note: the search is confined to a 250 mile radius from your location. If you experience difficulty locating a test center of finding availbale dates please contact Prometric – their contact information can be found here.

What if I want to schedule a remotely proctored online exam?

If you would like to schedule a remotely proctored online exam, you will first need to ensure that your computer meets the technical specifications and that the space where you intend to take your exam meets the testing environment requirements. Once you have verified your computer meets the minimum system requirements you can go to the Prometric website to schedule your remotely proctored online exam.

What if I scheduled my exam at a Prometric test center, but I now want to take a remotely proctored exam?

If you have a scheduled exam at a Prometric test center and would like to reschedule it for a remotely proctored online exam, you will first need to cancel your exam at the test center. Then follow to the link to schedule a remotely proctored online exam.

Please note: You will receive a new confirmation email. If you do not, please contact Prometric immediately to confirm that your exam was reschedule.

What are the technical requirements to take a remote proctored online exam?

You can review the technical requirements in the ProProctor User Guide. Perform a system readiness check at least seven (7) days before your exam to ensure that your computer meets the minimum system requirements. If you are having technical difficulties, refer to Prometric’s FAQ or contact ProProctor Technical Support who will provide assistance to troubleshoot errors (you may need to switch Ad-blocker software off, in order to launch the technical support chat session).

Is there any special application to take the remote proctored online exam?

Yes. ProProctor is the application Prometric has developed for remote proctored exams. The ProProctor User Guide, provides a comprehensive overview of the application, system requirements and testing environment requirements.

I am not able to download and install the ProProctor App on my computer, what should I do?

First review the technical requirements in the ProProctor User Guide and perform a system readiness check before downloading and installing the ProProctor App. If you are having technical difficulties, contact ProProctor Technical Support who will provide assistance to troubleshoot errors (you may need to switch Ad-blocker software off, in order to launch the technical support chat session).

If you are using a computer issued by your employer, you may need to first contact your IT department in order to download and install the ProProctor App.

When should I log on for my remote proctored online exam?

You will need to log on to ProProctor 30 minutes prior to your scheduled exam appointment. Upon logging into the Prometric site, you will be prompted to go through a series of security checks before launching your exam. You must abide by the Prometric security rules in the remote proctored environment. It is recommended you carefully read these before your scheduled exam date since you will be required to agree to them before starting your exam.

What can I expect during check-in for my online exam?

The ProProctor User Guide provides you with step-by-step instructions for how to check-in for our online exam; you should read it carefully. The check-in and security screening processes are very similar to what you would expect at a Prometric Test Center, but in an online environment. An online Prometric Readiness Agent will ask you to provide a 360-degree view of your environment using your webcam. You will need to have a small mirror to-hand so that the Readiness Agent can check your computer keyboard and screen to ensure that there is nothing attached. They will then ask you to stand up to do a visual scan of your person. This will include (but is not limited too) conducting a sleeve, pocket and glasses check. Just as at a Test Center, remember to remove jewelry and empty your pockets prior to check in.

Top tip: it is best to wear clothes that do not have pockets – it can be challenging turning-out the pockets on a pair of Jeans on camera!

What happens if someone comes into the room I am using for my online exam?

It is very important that you take your exam in room with a door you can close. No one else can be in the room.

Before launching your online exam, you will have agreed to being recorded (audio and visual) for the duration of your exam. If someone else comes into the room where you are taking your exam, privacy laws require that Prometric immediately shut down your exam because the individual entering the room has not consented to being recorded. If someone enters the room where you are taking your online exam, your exam results will be invalidated, and you will forfeit the full exam fee.

Why am I not allowed to say the exam questions out loud when I am taking an online exam?

Reading the questions out loud breaches exam security protocols. The content of the exam is confidential and may not be shared with anyone, which includes your remote Proctor.

I am having technical problems during my remote proctored exam?

A Remote Proctor will be supervising your exam during its entire duration. You must contact the Remote Proctor via chat or audio if:

  • You experience a problem with your computer
  • An Error message appears on the computer screen (do not clear the message)
  • You need the Remote Proctor for any other reason
Am I allowed to take a break during my online exam?

No, breaks are not permitted during remotely proctored online exams. It is strictly prohibited for you to be out of the webcam’s field of vision at any point while taking the exam. If you leave your seat during the exam, except when authorized to leave by the Remote Proctor at the end of the exam, your exam session and fees are forfeited.

What are the eligibility requirements to sit for the SITES AP exam?

GBCI recommends that you have exposure to SITES concepts through educational courses, volunteering, or work experience prior to testing. To sit for the SITES AP exam you must be at least 18 years of age.

Can I ask for Testing Accommodations when I take my exam?

GBCI complies with the provisions of the American with Disabilities Act (ADA). If you require testing accommodations, you must check the box that says, “Yes, I need testing accommodations,” when you register for the exam. You and your healthcare provider each need to complete the following forms, the Candidate Form and the Provider Form, to document the disability and the need for accommodation. Each request is evaluated individually and may take up to five business days. Your request may only be sent via email to accommodations@gbci.org or faxed to (202) 545-3708. Do not mail any documents to GBCI.

Please note: for remote proctored online exams, Prometric may not be able to accommodate all requests since candidates are taking the exams in a remote location. You will be contacted by email with the status of your request.

How much does it cost to take the SITES AP exam?

Please see the SITES AP exam fee structure on the exam page. Your paid exam fee is good for only one exam attempt.

How can I take the SITES AP exam?

You have two options to take your SITES AP exam. You have the option to take your exam at a Prometric Test Center or through as a remotely proctored internet-enabled (online) exam using Prometric’s ProProctor tool.

What is the minimum score I need to receive to pass the SITES AP exam?

A score of 170 or higher is required to pass the SITES AP exam. You must earn a scaled score of 170. The scaled score for all GBCI exams ranges from 125-200. The scaled score is calculated by taking the candidate’s raw score (total number of correct questions) and mapping it onto a standardized scale between 125 and 200, with the minimum competency threshold always mapped to a scaled score of 170.

Once I register for the SITES AP exam, how long do I have to schedule and take the exam?

Once you register and pay for your exam, you have 12 months to schedule and take your exam session.

What is GBCI’s reschedule or cancel policy?

You can reschedule or cancel your exam appointment by going to the Prometric website. You must have your Prometric-issued 16 digit confirmation number. You can find this number on your auto-generated email from Prometric.

  • You may reschedule or reschedule your exam up to 30 days prior to your exam without incurring a fee.
  • If you reschedule an exam fewer than 30 days, but more than three days before the scheduled date, you will be charged a $50 fee.
  • You cannot reschedule your exam after midnight on the third day before your scheduled exam appointment. For example, Wednesday appointments cannot be rescheduled after Sunday, 11:59 pm EST.

When you reschedule your exam, you will receive a new email confirmation. If you cancel, you will receive a cancellation notice. If you do not, please contact Prometric immediately to confirm your exam was rescheduled or canceled.

Days until exam Refunds Reschedules
30 days or more Yes Yes
3-29 days Yes ($50 fee) Yes ($50 fee)
2 days or less No No
If I cancel my exam, am I eligible for a refund?

To receive a refund exam, you must contact GBCI. Whether you are eligible for a refund for your canceled exam depends on how far in advance you cancel your exam.

How soon will I receive the results from the exam?

Your exam score is displayed on the screen at the end of your exam session. The score report will be emailed to you within 24 hours of your appointment. Within 72 hours, your SITES Credential account is updated and the SITES directory if you requested.

Can I retake the exam if I fail?

If your attempt was unsuccessful, you may register again in the same way as the initial registration. After three unsuccessful attempts, however, you must wait 90 days before submitting a new registration to GBCI. Candidates must pay the registration fee for each exam attempt.

Can I see the questions that I missed on the SITES AP exam?

GBCI does not release exam content or answers or allow candidates to review proprietary content under any circumstances.

Can my SITES AP exam score be reviewed?

Exam scoring is standardized through a computerized algorithmic process, which is applied exactly the same way to all GBCI exams that are taken. GBCI will investigate exam scores only in instances of technical malfunctions associated Prometric exam delivery.

What study resources are available? Are any sample questions available?

The SITES Rating System and the SITES Reference Guide are both helpful resources. The test specifications, as well as sample questions, are also available in the SITES AP Candidate Handbook.

Are there any Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) requirements for SITES AP and do they align with LEED and WELL AP CMP requirements?

Yes, there are CMP requirements for the SITES AP. There has been an overall effort to align the SITES, LEED and WELL APs as much as possible. For more information about CMP requirements for both the SITES, LEED and WELL credentials, please visit the GBCI CMP Guide.

What's involved in the process of creating the SITES AP?

Conception: GBCI will bring together leading experts in the fields of sustainable landscape design to form a Job Analysis Committee. This committee will include landscape architects, planners, consultants, horticulturalists and water, soil and human health specialists from the public, private and nonprofit sectors. The committee will be responsible for creating content areas that lay the groundwork for building the SITES AP exam.

Validation: GBCI will enlist the help of a wider group of subject matter experts, who will review the content areas and their relative importance through the SITES AP Job Analysis Survey. The survey will give experts in the sustainable landscape community an opportunity to contribute to the SITES AP credential. GBCI will then gather and analyze results to create an exam blueprint, which will outline weight distribution for exam questions by content area.

Development: Once the blueprint is finalized, GBCI will enlist subject matter experts to write and review questions to appear on the SITES AP exam. With expert consensus, a well-rounded exam will be created and launched for the SITES AP credential. The exam will be finalized and placed into the testing platform for aspiring SITES AP candidates.

How do I appeal a SITES AP exam question?

During the exam, candidates may submit comments on any question(s) they believe to contain technical errors in content by using the comment button located in the navigation bar. To challenge an exam question, the candidate must have commented on the question and provided an explanation of their concerns. After the exam, within ten days, inform GBCI that you have left comments on your exam; in your correspondence, be sure to note the questions and the email address used to sign up for the exam, as well as the date on which you took it. GBCI will review your concerns and notify you with their finding. If you experience any problems at the Prometric test center or during a remote proctored exam, you must inform test center personnel before leaving the test center or the remote proctor prior to ending your online exam session. Prometric will draft an incident report for GBCI to review.

Because of the need for test security, GBCI will not release exam questions or answers to candidates. GBCI does not respond to complaints or challenges received more than ten days after the test date and does not respond to complaints sent to organizations other than GBCI.
GBCI does not modify exam scores under any conditions. In the event of a successful exam content appeal, you will be given the opportunity to retest; your score will not be changed. The only way to earn a LEED professional credential is to earn a 170 on the required exam.