Created by the American Public Gardens Association, the Public Gardens Sustainability Index is an industry-specific tool with a structure that encompasses Environmental, Social, and Financial Sustainability best practices for public gardens of all sizes, financial capacities, community demographics, and geographies. 

The Public Gardens Sustainability Index is a suite of Attributes intended to inspire public gardens to advance their own garden sustainability programs and operations to further the mission of their institution while connecting to local, national, and global sustainability efforts. The Index shares examples of how public gardens are contributing to best practices in Sustainability. 

In FY21, members of the Smithsonian Gardens (SG) Leadership Team, Green Team, and other SG staff formed working groups to examine SG’s policies, practices, and collections against four of these Attributes: 

  • Biodiversity and Conservation 
  • Employee Development, Diversity, and Inclusion 
  • Engagement, Outreach, and Education 
  • Materials Management 

The four working groups created color charts that evaluated SG’s progress towards best practices in these attributes, followed by recommendations for further action, supported by supplemental documents. The Sustainability Index Packet was presented to the Leadership Team, Green Team, and all-staff. The Leadership team felt that the most achievable, short-term recommendations should be incorporated into SG’s FY22 goals to keep up momentum and gain a sense of accomplishment and that the remaining goals, which would take longer and require more resources, could be worked into the next strategic planning process.