Pilgrimage Sites

Pilgrimage sites are buildings and places with performance that goes well beyond current sustainability norms and practices.

We envision a pilgrimage site in every neighborhood in America (and beyond!). Use this tool to share, locate, and learn about pilgrimage-worthy projects near you.


About Pilgrimage Sites

Seeing is believing.

Our preferred future exists in pockets around us. A neighborhood here, a building there: places that, when experienced in person, have a unique power to change us. But they are not located everywhere, nor are they evenly distributed; travel is required to see them. Rechanneling the religious origins of the phrase, a pilgrimage site can be a powerful change accelerant: a way to embrace change that you have already experienced.


Visits to pilgrimage sites provide three distinct benefits: (1) an emotional connection to the aspiration of the place; (2) a validation that the aspirational is possible; and (3) an understanding of the specific techniques required to achieve such a high level of performance.

To perform as well as they do, these projects require some of the highest design quality of any projects built. These glimpses ahead provide us with specifics about our preferred future, essential to setting attainable aspirations as we work to perfect communities.

Yet, for all of the sustainability ambition they embody, the Pilgrimage Sites featured on this site are underperforming in one key metric: time. The project timelines document the years, sometimes decades, and occasionally a generation or more, required to make them happen.

Additionally, each project has a different level of impact, which, of course, can be measured many different ways. For our purposes, we used the concept of a “shelf life” to quantify the years (and generations) we think a project will be considered cutting-edge. For example, the Bullitt Center has a 250-year shelf-life; in other words, we think that in 250 years it will no longer be worth traveling to and reproducing its sustainability strategies.

For more information on our methodology and selection criteria, please check out our [[Resources]] page.

Would you like to share or recommend an existing exemplary project for consideration as a Pattern Project Pilgrimage Site? Interested in sharing an idea or proposal for getting a pilgrimage Site in your community? Submit a suggested Pilgrimage Site below!