Sustainability Programs, Documentaries, & Articles

Here you will find a list of industry guides and standards to support sustainable design, healthy ecosystems, and healthy buildings. Following that section you'll also find documentaries and articles I recommend on these topics. Click the buttons below to jump to sections.

Sustainability Programs

Global Initiatives

UN Sustainable Development Goals

Learn more about the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals, including 169 Targets.

e-Stewards® Standard

Described on as "the cleanest, most globally responsible standard for e-waste recycling. e-Stewards is a global team of individuals, institutions, businesses, non-profit organizations, and governmental agencies upholding a safe, ethical, and globally responsible standard for e-waste recycling and refurbishment." This website includes resources for Recyclers, Consumers, and Enterprises.

Take 3

Together we can combat plastic pollution through our simple actions, to "take 3 pieces of rubbish with you when you leave the beach, waterway or…anywhere, and you have made a difference." Take a photo of the collected items and post on social media with the hashtag #take3forthesea, which allows the items to be tracked by the organization. At the time of this writing, over 42 million pieces of trash have been collected! Source:

Sustainable Exteriors

Certified Wildlife Habitat®

by the National Wildlife Federation

Review the Garden for Wildlife checklist to support a healthy ecosystem in your own backyard, project site, or community space.

Homegrown National Park®

Join the map and commit to supporting biodiversity! This is a grassroots effort, where Doug Tallamy stated: “Our National Parks, no matter how grand in scale are too small and separated from one another to preserve species to the levels needed. Thus, the concept for Homegrown National Park, a bottom-up call-to-action to restore habitat where we live and work, and to a lesser extent where we farm and graze, extending national parks to our yards and communities.” According to their website, their "initial goal is 20 million acres of native plantings in the U.S. This represents approximately 1/2 of the green lawns of privately-owned properties."

Pollinator Pathway®

"Community Pollinator Pathway projects are organized by volunteers from town conservation organizations (listed on each town's page) working together to establish pollinator-friendly habitat and food sources for bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other pollinating insects and wildlife along a series of continuous corridors. Most native bees have a range of about 750 meters, so the goal is to connect properties that are no farther apart than that. ​Without pollinators, we can’t feed ourselves. Pollination enables the plants in our yards, parks, farms and orchards to reproduce." Source:

International Dark Sky Places Certifications and DarkSky Approved Program

The International Dark Sky Places program offers multiple certifications including International Dark Sky Communities, Parks, Sanctuaries, Reserves, and Urban Night Sky Places. The DarkSky Approved Program is available for products, designs, and projects. For information on lighting ordinances visit here. To learn more about DarkSky approved products and companies visit here.

Waters Edge Design Guide - A Waterfront Alliance Program

"WEDG is the gold standard for waterfront resilience and risk reduction. It also maximizes the benefits for ecology and access by inspiring innovation at the water’s edge. WEDG is a tool for designers, developers, risk and financial professionals, students and educators, as well as communities."


The Sustainable SITES Initiative™

According to, "The Sustainable SITES Initiative aims to weave the 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." Additionally, shares some history behind the development. It notes that "from 2006-2014, a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort led by the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanic Garden developed the Sustainable SITES Initiative and the resulting SITES v2 Rating System."

Bee City USA® and Bee Campus USA

Initiatives of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation

As stated on their website, the U.S. is "home to just over 3,600 native (wild) bee species such as bumble bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, mason bees, longhorn bees, and mining bees. Native pollinators are particularly important because they evolved alongside native plants and in many cases are the most effective pollinators — and in a few cases, the only pollinators. Pollinators are keystone species in essentially every terrestrial ecosystem on earth, assisting in plant reproduction and supporting other species of wildlife. Pollinators touch our lives in numerous ways each day, including being responsible for approximately one third of the food and drink we consume.... Thinking globally and acting locally, Bee City USA provides a framework for communities to come together to conserve native pollinators by providing them with healthy habitat that is rich in a variety of native plants, provides nest sites, and is protected from pesticides."

Firewise USA®

"The national Firewise USA recognition program provides a collaborative framework to help neighbors in a geographic area get organized, find direction, and take action to increase the ignition resistance of their homes and community and to reduce wildfire risks at the local level. Any community that meets a set of voluntary criteria on an annual basis and retains an 'In Good Standing Status' may identify itself as being a Firewise® Site. The Firewise USA® program is administered by NFPA® and is co-sponsored by the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters."


Sustainable Buildings and Properties


Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design™

According to, LEED is "the world's most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building types, LEED certification provides a framework for healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings, which offer environmental, social and governance benefits. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement and leadership. LEED is backed by USGBC — the developers of LEED — and an entire industry of committed organizations and individuals who are paving the way for market transformation." LEED also includes sustainable site initiatives.

LEED v4, Building, Design + Construction:

LEED BD+C: Homes

LEED BD+C: New Construction

LEED v4, Operations & Maintenance:

LEED O&M: Existing Buildings


Passive House Institute US

"Zero is the goal. Phius is the means. Phius is the smartest path to a zero-carbon built environment, certifying the majority of all passive house projects in North America with our locally tailored, globally applicable passive building standard. Learn how you can build comfortable, healthy, cost-efficient buildings for a more resilient world." Source:

Living Building Challenge

As described by the International Living Future Institute℠:

"The Living Building Challenge consists of seven performance categories, or
'petals': place, water, energy, health + happiness, materials, equity and
beauty.” For the Living Building Challenge 4.0 click here.

Healthy Buildings

WELL Building Standard®

Administered by the International WELL Building Institute™

"Developed over 10 years and backed by the latest scientific research, WELL sets pathways for accomplishing health-first factors that help every one of us to do our best work and be our best selves by supporting our physical and mental health across 10 core concepts. Rigorous performance standards for design interventions, operational protocols and company-wide practices are verified by a third party. WELL works at any scale, from a single interior space to an entire organization." Source:


Building Health for All™

As noted on the website, "Fitwel has a vision for a healthier future where every building is enhanced to support the wellbeing of its occupants and support healthy communities. Fitwel is the pioneering real estate platform driving health insights in building, ESG performance, and bottom line value. Generated by expert analysis of 7,000+ academic research studies, Fitwel is implementing a vision for a healthier future where all buildings and communities are enhanced to strengthen health and well-being."

Sustainable Organizations

ISO 14001 Environmental Management System

"ISO 14001 sets out the criteria for an environmental management system and can be certified to. It maps out a framework that a company or organization can follow to set up an effective environmental management system. Designed for any type of organization, regardless of its activity or sector, it can provide assurance to company management and employees as well as external stakeholders that environmental impact is being measured and improved."

BCorp Certification

Companies can showcase their commitment to environmental and social initiatives through this program.


Some of the links below are affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

"Saving the Dark"

Learn the importance of protecting dark night skies and how you can help.

"Breaking Boundaries: The Science of Our Planet"

Sir David Attenborough and scientist Johan Rockström explore several of our planetary boundaries. This film will leave you with a desire to reduce your carbon footprint by half each year between 2020-2030.


I learned of this series through the Homegrown National Park initiative, who shared the following: "We are thrilled to announce our collaboration with Wild Hope, a PBS series incredibly aligned with the mission of Homegrown National Park." According to "These are not the kinds of stories you see on the news. When it comes to the environment, the standard fare these days is a barrage of doom and despair. Enter WILD HOPE, a new series that crisscrosses the globe to spotlight the changemakers who are restoring and protecting the natural world. The people and stories in WILD HOPE reveal how saving biodiversity begins in our own backyards. There is no need—and no time—to wait for global accords."

"One Strange Rock" by National Geographic

The series includes 11 episodes released in 2018 with narration by Will Smith. Beautifully filmed, this series covers the amazing systems of our incredible planet that allow life to exist here.

"Inhabit: A Permaculture Perspective"

View permaculture impacts from large scale properties to suburbia, and even a NYC rooftop.

"The Biggest Little Farm"

Learn about permaculture practices for sustainable farming.

The "e2" PBS Series

This includes 5 seasons with six episodes per season, from 2006 - 2009, narrated by Brad Pitt. Although statistics are assumed to be outdated, this was a very informative series touching on sustainable building design, site planning, transportation, economics, and more.

Recommended Websites and Articles

Calculate your Carbon Footprint with a tool like this one from the EPA. Once you understand your baseline it is easier to make improvements day by day, week by week.

Native Plant Finder search tool by National Wildlife Federation. Find native plants based on your zip code, which host the most caterpillar species for butterflies and moths in your area.

"Container Gardening with Keystones" by Homegrown National Park®.

"Five Principles for Responsible Outdoor Lighting" by the International Dark-Sky Association.

"5 Easy Ways to Welcome Bats to Your Yard or Greenspace" by Bat Conservation International. by speaker Ken Wolslegel offers many resources to help protect our planet.

Participate in the Lights Out program by Audubon to reduce light pollution.

Visit Water Stories to be inspired and get educated on how to restore watersheds and ecosystems. Sharing films, webinars, podcasts, and deep dive courses, you can discover how to restore the water cycle, heal the land, and create property resiliency.

Foundation Design Handbook

This electronic handbook includes best practices for sealing, waterproofing, and insulating foundations, crawl spaces, and slab-on-grade conditions.

Copyright 2023 Beth Manteuffel All rights reserved