Diploma of Site Design Requirements

The Diploma of Permaculture Site Design is granted to honor achievement and excellence in permaculture site design at all scales.

After acceptance into the diploma program, you must meet all of the following requirements with the guidance and support of a field advisor and mentors.

  • Action Learning Plan
  • Permaculture Design Work
  • Advanced Coursework
  • Design Experience
  • Portfolio

Action Learning Plan

Developed with the guidance of the field advisor, the plan may entail mentoring, internships, paid work, self-directed projects, and direct instruction.

Permaculture Design Work

Completion of 10 comprehensive permaculture client-based designs and/or community project designs are required.

Team-based design work is encouraged. Demonstration of skills is required that connect design to the real world, including problem solving ability, budgeting, generating estimates and scheduling.

Advanced Coursework

Participation in a PINA-recognized Advanced Permaculture Design Course or other advanced permaculture course is highly recommended, and may be required by the field advisor.

Design Experience

You must demonstrate a broad diversity of design experience by achieving overlapping criteria for design projects.

Of the 10 required designs…


At least 5 designs for physical sites
At least 2 designs for invisible structures


At least 2 designs completed in a partnership or team
At least 2 designs completed solo


At least 1 design for less than 1/4 acre
At least 1 design for 1/4 – 3 acres
At least 1 design for greater than 3 acres


At least 1 urban design
At least 1 suburban design
At least 1 rural design


At least 1 design outside the candidate’s home bioregion


At least 2 designs for a private residence
At least 1 design for a business enterprise
At least 1 design for an institution
At least 1 design for a community project


At least 1 design completed as a paid professional
At least 1 design completed as a volunteer


At least 5 designs substantially implemented

One or more of these requirements may be waived at the discretion of the field advisor, in consideration of your unique circumstances or challenges.


Your portfolio must include several documents:

  • Documentation of how you implement permaculture in your personal life, including the design and status of your home site and livelihood. This item illustrates permaculture ethics in action.
  • Graphic and text documentation for 10 permaculture designs.
  • Evidence of the ability to present design work in an organized, timely, articulate manner.
  • Two written references from PINA-recognized design diplomates with whom you have worked.
  • Two written references from your clients or employers.

Additional documentation if applicable:

  • Bibliography of publications.
  • Roster of public outreach activities.
  • Professional awards.
  • Additional supporting evidence, such as field reports or photos.

Provide each of the 10 designs electronically in the following format.

1. Project Overview

Vision statements/ethics
Notes on client interview
Goal statement/design aims
Icon or symbol for the project (optional)

2. Documentation of Existing Site

Base map for the entire site, including neighbors at the edges
Blow-up maps for area(s) of intensive design (as needed)
Elevations, sandbox or models (as needed)
Species lists
Diagram of current invisible structures
Document features (soils, water rights, liens, easements, building codes, etc)
Additional notes on observation and research

3. Site Analysis

Overlay Chart of Sectors
Overlay Chart of Current Zones of Use
Overlay Charts of Microclimates, etc. (as needed)

4. Design Methods

Charts of Needs/Yields, Pattern Language, other methods (as needed)

5. Final Design

Overlay Chart of Design Features
Blow-ups, elevations, models, charts, etc. (as needed)
Overlay Chart of Proposed Zones of Use (as needed)
Diagram of Proposed Invisible Structures (as needed)
Bubble Chart showing connections among the design features

6. Implementation Plan

Phases/Time line
Budget and Materials