If you want an example of leadership in sustainable design, look no further than the Tuthill Corporate headquarters. Designed and built in the late 1990s – two years before the LEED rating system was introduced and 14 years before SITES certification was available – the Tuthill facility achieved retrofit certification for both design and operational excellence. The client, building architect, landscape architect, stormwater engineer, ecologist and contractor utilized an integrative design process to meet environmental goals and save money.
“One of the benefits of the SITES tool is that by following the requirements and basically getting more information up front – and subsequently we have embraced many more of these processes as part of our standard approach – it actually saves time and money in the design process, as you’re not finding out things after you’re halfway down the path,” says David J. Yocca, FASLA, Principal Landscape Architect/Planner with Conservation Design Forum, which served as the landscape architect and ecological consultant on the project.
The entire site, except for the building, pavement and small buffalo grass turf edge, has been restored to native landscapes. The site design includes shallow bioswales and rain gardens, which in concert with the restored native landscape effectively manage most of the rainfall without surface water runoff. The high-quality remnant prairies have been protected and continue to demonstrate ever-greater species diversity.
The site is maintained by facility staff under the guidance of landscape restoration and stewardship professionals, in accordance with the original maintenance intent in the contract requirements, but without adding costs, according to Yocca.
“It’s a requirement of the contract that they provide documentation in the format that is necessary to basically show compliance with the maintenance plan,” he explains. “It doesn’t have to be complex to do that. If you have a landscaping plan that is calibrated to the systems you’ve developed, and then you follow that plan, that’s the main requirement. It doesn’t necessarily have to cost more.”