Parks and Recreation Dept. adds expertise in sustainable landscaping

Published on April 09, 2019

Parks and Recreation Superintendent Joe Sulak (C) receives kudos from Mayor Rosalynn Bliss (L) and Parks and Recreation Director David Marquardt (R)

Parks Superintendent Joe Sulak earns SITES AP certification for developing and managing parks that promote public health, sustainability, recreation and education


Parks Superintendent Joe Sulak earns SITES AP certification for developing and managing parks that promote public health, sustainability, recreation and education 


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids today announced Joe Sulak, the City’s parks and recreation superintendent, earned Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) Accredited Professional certification. The certification brings the tools and resources necessary for the SITES application and certification of the City’s parks and landscaping projects.

“Parks and outdoor spaces add incredible value to our community by providing a place for recreation, relaxation and education while promoting sustainability and conservation,” said David Marquardt, the City’s parks and recreation director. “As we continue to maintain and enhance our parks, Mr. Sulak’s SITES AP certification will allow us to shift standard practices toward ecological restoration and renaturalization for developing and managing parks that promote public health, sustainability, recreation and education.”

SITES certification – similar to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for buildings – is a comprehensive rating system for the design and management of sustainable landscapes and properties. SITES certification for landscapes looks at the full picture of a park or outdoor space, including soil, plants, water, wildlife habitats, energy consumption and other factors. SITES-certified landscapes help reduce water demand, filter and reduce stormwater runoff, provide wildlife habitats, reduce energy consumption, improve air quality and human health, and increase outdoor recreation opportunities.

Sulak’s certification allows him to manage the application and certification process as the City explores opportunities for SITES certification of various parks projects. It also allows him to apply knowledge of sustainable park design to ensure the City’s parks have a positive impact on the health and well-being of residents and the environment.

“Our team is committed to developing and maintaining sustainable parks, and I am excited to apply the knowledge gained through SITES certification to enhance our work,” Sulak said. “SITES certification is a step toward developing a world-class parks system in Grand Rapids. It serves as a guide for ensuring sustainability is part of our parks from design to construction.”

There is one SITES-certified project in West Michigan: Grand Valley State University’s recreation fields. This project earned SITES certification for incorporating sustainable landscaping and stormwater management techniques while providing a space that promotes the health and well-being of students and the campus community.

Learn more HERE.

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