SITES is the most comprehensive system for creating sustainable and resilient land development projects.

The Sustainable SITES Initiative is a rating system administered by the Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI). CNGF is a SITES Community Partner. SITES provides a sustainability-focused framework for designers to protect ecosystems. According to SITES, any project site – whether the site of a university campus, housing subdivision, shopping mall, or park – holds a potential to protect, improve, and regenerate the benefits and services provided by healthy ecosystems.

CNGF is connected with 35 technical experts, with skillsets in aquaponics, ecological engineering, controlled environmental agriculture, mindful aging, biogas and greywater. Our partnerships and 20+ years of experience in native ecological and education gardens positions us to provide SITES certification assistance and sustainable and regenerative landscape solutions to clients.

Our expertise is comprised of:

• California native ecology and regenerative organic agriculture

• Ecological and educational garden design

• Sustainable maintenance and management of waste, water, soil, and energy

• ELSEE nature-immersion curriculum integrated into garden design

• Interfaces with the educational and research communities

• Understanding of native species for different uses aquired through experience and application

• Systems approach to site land use that meets life cycle needs


Our SITES services include:

• Guide design team to successfully apply and certify sites on behalf of clients

• Perform SITES-related research and provide design solutions

• Review designs for compliance with SITES criteria

• Develop strategies to maximize the number of SITES benchmarks or points

• Integrate with other design professionals and educators to develop a multifunctional site

• Work with the client to provide data that documents site specific carbon reduction and sequestration and improvement in other ecosystem services

• Develop long term ecological and sustainable management practices

For more information, please contact us.

Key Projects

Environmental Laboratory for Sustainability & Ecological Education (ELSEE) at 76 Race St

We created ELSEE, an outdoor teaching garden and model for 10,000 California public schools. It contains 200 benchmarks for urban sustainability. These programs were matched up with lesson plans and curriculum traditionally taught indoors. Our lessons and project-based learning activities fulfilled CREEC (California Regional Environmental Education Community), as well as the Core Curriculum and Science standards for grades pre-k through 8th. The Project was designed, built and managed to gain SITES Certification as a pilot project.

The Lab for Nature-Based Urban Living

The Lab for Nature-Based Urban Living is a vision for the current gardens at 76 Race St in midtown San Jose, where CNGF currently operates. In partnership with local institutions, the site can be sustainably developed to host:

• LEED-certified affordable student housing
• California native plant-based Culinary Arts Institute
• Outdoor education center
• SITES-certified native, regenerative landscape
• Regenerative Organic Agriculture and aquaponic
• Sustainable job training
• A venue to host community events and programs

The Lab will act as the hub for a network of knowledge and resource sharing between students, scientists, landowners, educators, and other community members.

Santee- Native Grassland Garden

CNGF converted an existing landscape into an ELSEE garden at Educare, a part of the First 5 program that provides preschool education to low income families. The garden was designed to be used for Playing with Intent curriculum (ages 0-5), Earth Hero’s Nature Camp (ages 6-12), families, and college interns at CNGF. This landscape conversion focuses on restoring ecosystems services in an urban educational setting. The educational garden features:

• native grassland with locally sourced plants
• repurposed pallet fence
• constructed wetland fed by the garden sink
• pollinator, medicinal, and food plants
• original art