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Public Gardens Sustainability Index

West Virginia Botanic Garden, Oasis Design Group, Landscape Architect

Establishing Sector-wide Sustainability

The Public Gardens Sustainability Index represents a holistic approach to define principles and best practices for operational sustainability, sector-wide. Its resources include standards, measurement tools, and network support. Peer-reviewed living documents outline best practices that apply to all public gardens, regardless of size, operating budget, or their current level of performance. Simply put, it is a road map for a garden’s sustainability journey.

The Index helps public garden professionals benchmark, develop, and adopt practices that span all sustainability components - integrating environmental, social and economic spheres. Public gardens’ unique successes in each of twelve (12) attributes of sustainability provide the framework (fig.). Case studies, peer engagement, and institutional leadership action at all levels stimulate key accomplishments. As peer gardens move forward together, measurement indicators yield both institutional and sector-wide impacts.

The Strategic Imperative for Public Garden Sustainability

Attaining sector-wide sustainability requires more than just reducing energy consumption or water use. Public gardens already demonstrate an exceptional ability to engage/educate the public on the importance of biodiversity and conservation. Many gardens attract and nourish diverse new talent to sustain future leadership in the field and/or directly impact the economic vitality of their communities.

In every way that public gardens can address current environmental, social, and economic challenges, they do so for the benefit of all - providing relevance, respite, and resilience. 

Public gardens must leverage all of their existing capacity to collectively address the challenges posed by climate change and its reverberating effects on the ecosystems, plants, and communities that gardens showcase and conserve. The Public Gardens Sustainability Index represents the vast collective individual and institutional experience of its professional network, using adaptable standards that can be adopted and practiced by the whole sector, for the betterment of all.

Take the Survey

A short survey will get you started thinking about the 12 attributes of sustainability in the context of your garden site. Try it for yourself by clicking the button below.