West Laurel Hill’s Nature’s Sanctuary Awarded SITES Gold for Achievement in Landscape Sustainability

West Laurel Hill’s Nature’s Sanctuary Awarded SITES Gold for Achievement in Landscape Sustainability

West Laurel Hill is pleased to announce Nature’s Sanctuary was awarded Gold under the Sustainable SITES Initiative (SITES) certification program. Owned and administered by Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI), SITES is the most comprehensive program for designing, developing, and maintaining sustainable landscapes.

  • Nature’s Sanctuary is the first cemetery to ever achieve SITES certification
  • It is the first project in Pennsylvania to achieve certification under SITES v2
  • It is the sixth project in the world to achieve SITES Gold

Designed to evolve into a native climax forest, Nature’s Sanctuary’s design works to create a habitat and preserves a much-needed oasis. In this green burial space, perpetual care will be carried out by nature rather than a lawnmower, and the community will be able to be a part of a legacy in support of restored ecosystems. Historic West Laurel Hill is a valuable asset to the community. This site not only provides a lovely interment option to the community, but also acts as an environmental oasis within the rolling open hills of the cemetery. Nature’s Sanctuary offers a place for loved ones to take a meditative stroll through the grounds, and offers a space for quiet contemplative reflection. Assisted ecological succession, in this application, is transforming a degraded landscape into a functioning ecosystem. This innovation is allowing the overall landscape to thrive and will change the green cemetery industry as well as the overall cemetery industry. Additional sustainable design elements include utilizing goat-grazing for invasive underbrush removal, memorial wall and walking trail.

“We are extremely honored to receive this SITES certification, as it means that we have met the high standards that align design and development with healthy ecosystems,” said Nancy Goldenberg, president and CEO of West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home. “West Laurel Hill’s green burial site, Nature’s Sanctuary, is the first cemetery ever to be SITES-certified. We work hard to ensure sustainable practices throughout our entire organization, and this award is certainly a badge of pride that recognizes our commitment and sets us apart from our peers.”

The SITES rating system is based on the understanding that land is a crucial part of our built environment and by fostering its resiliency we elevate its economic, environmental and social benefits. SITES provide best practices and benchmarks projects against performance criteria, enabling the market to quantify and rate the sustainable use and performance of land sites. Used by landscape architects, engineers, architects, developers and policy makers, SITES create regenerative systems and fosters resiliency; ensures future resource supply and mitigates climate change; transforms the market through design, development and maintenance practices; and enhances human wellbeing and strengthens the community. SITES-certified projects are better able to withstand and recover from floods, droughts, wildfires and other catastrophic events. Projects can help reduce water and energy demand, improve air quality and promote human health and wellbeing.

“West Laurel Hill’s Gold certification represents tremendous leadership in sustainable landscape design and development,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, U.S. Green Building Council and GBCI. “SITES has the power to transform land development and to create a more sustainably built environment, and projects like this will play a critical role.”

SITES was developed through a collaborative, interdisciplinary effort of 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. The rating system can be applied to development projects located on sites with or without buildings and draws on the experience gained from a two-year pilot program involving more than 100 projects. Projects that have achieved certification include corporate headquarters, national and city parks, academic campuses and private homes. Learn more at

About West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home

Incorporated in 1869, the historic West Laurel Hill Cemetery & Funeral Home is a privately-owned, non-profit, non-denominational cemetery, a 187-acre arboretum and an outdoor sculpture garden rich in cultural and social history. We offer one location for all your funeral and cemetery needs including monuments/engraving, an onsite crematory, chapels, reception areas and Jewish and green burial and funeral services. West Laurel Hill Funeral Home is located on the grounds of the Cemetery, 225 Belmont Avenue, Bala Cynwyd, PA. To learn more about West Laurel Hill, visit

About Green Business Certification Inc.

Green Business Certification Inc. (GBCI) is the premier organization independently recognizing excellence in green business industry performance and practice globally. Established in 2008, GBCI exclusively administers project certifications and professional credentials and certificates within the framework of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED green building rating systems, as well as the PEER standard for power systems, the WELL building standard, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), Parksmart, EDGE and the GRESB benchmark, which is used by institutional investors to improve the sustainability performance of the global property sector. Through rigorous certification and credentialing standards, GBCI drives adoption of green business practices, which fosters global competitiveness and enhances environmental performance and human health benefits.