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LEED 2012 – 3rd Public Comment – LT (Location and Transportation) Section

Discussion of key changes in the the LT section of LEED-NC (part of LEED BD&C) in the second public comment draft of LEED 2012.
March 1, 2012

Key changes in the the LT section of LEED-NC (part of LEED BD&C) in the third public comment draft of LEED 2012 are discussed below. Do you have comments or questions on this draft? Discuss them below with your fellow LEED professionals. Substantive comments submitted here during USGBC's third public comment period here will be submitted to USGBC and considered "official" public comments.

More information on LEED 2012 certification and the third public comment.

The new LT category still consists mostly of credits from the old Sustainable Sites category that aren’t so much about the site itself as they are about where it’s located.

A new LEED for Neighborhood Development Location credit remains in this draft as an alternate compliance path for the whole LT section. Some specifics on certification levels and other details have been changed since the last draft.

As with the second draft, what had been the Site Selection credit has morphed into a prerequisite and a credit. The prerequisite, Sensitive Land Protection, is structured very much like the current SSc1, but as a prerequisite, those requirements would have bumped a lot of projects out of LEED consideration in v2009. In Case 1, projects must develop only previously developed portions of a site. In Case 2, projects developing previously undeveloped sites have the opportunity to mitigate their impacts, depending on the type.

If you must build some or all of your project on prime soils, you can purchase or donate conservation easements for similar land elsewhere. Building an infill site on prime soils is also considered acceptable. If you don’t meet the requirement to stay 15 feet away from wetlands, you can earn the prerequisite by not building on the wetland and by performing stormwater mitigation.

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The corresponding credit has become High Priority Site, changed from Enhanced Site Protection, but is not otherwise much altered. There remain three options: locate on an infill location within a historic district; locate on a brownfield (that, in a change from the last draft, you must actually remediate); or locate on a site listed for preferential development by one of seven federal programs, such as the EPA National Priorities List. This new approach appears to raise the bar on brownfield remediation (see the SS section), and a new credit for historic buildings that appeared in the first public comment period has been rolled in here.

The old Development Density credit (SSc2) gets another new title, now  Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses. The basic intent has not changed, but USGBC continues to look for workable documentation requirements. In this draft, projects may calculate density using either separate residential and non-residential densities or combined density values. There are only detail-level changes to the “diverse uses” option, but a section highlighting pedestrian-friendly measures as a third option has been scrapped in this draft.

The Quality Transit and Reduced VMT credit (with “VMT” meaning vehicle miles traveled) from the last draft is now simply Quality Transit. This credit remains consistent with the first LEED 2012 draft, with a focus not just on locating near mass transit options, as in LEED 2009, but also on mass transit options that have routes meeting certain designated requirements and a minimum number of trips. VMT has been struck from the credit name because a second option offering compliance by locating within a metropolitan planning organization location with low VMT has been removed.

There are numerous small changes to the Bicycle Network, Storage, and Shower Rooms credit (no, they’re not “changing” rooms anymore), with mixed results in terms of stringency.  Minimum requirements for a bike rack have been dropped since the previous draft, but there are new requirements for short-term bike storage (2.5% of users) added to requirements for long-term bike storage (5% of users for commercial and 30% for residential projects). Short-term bike storage basically amounts to “preferred parking”—it’s within 100 feet of a main entrance— while long-term storage is within 100 feet of any functional entrance. It’s easy to see that we’re going to need a new glossary in the LEED 2012 Reference Guide.

Walkable Streets in the first LEED 2012 draft became Walkable Project Site in the second draft, and now it’s gone. It had focused on designing the building frontage to be friendly to pedestrians, with features like continuous sidewalks that connect to public sidewalks.

The new Reduced Parking Footprint credit has minor revisions since the last draft. The key requirement remains from the first draft: reduce capacity over a “base ratio” given in the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Parking Planning Handbook. The requirements are tougher for transit-served projects. Now new and existing spaces are explicitly counted (a change from LEED 2009, in which existing parking spaces are grandfathered in). The biggest change in this draft is the addition of requirements for pooled parking, such as in a mall. Projects may use their designated parking spaces for credit calculations, but if they do not have designated spaces, the entire parking area must meet the requirements.

As with the second draft, the Low-Emitting and Fuel-Efficient Vehicles credit is only offered to schools and warehouses, and the requirement is to provide a low-emitting vehicle fleet for the facility.

What do you think of the proposed changes? Post your public comment below.


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March 26, 2012 - 8:18 pm

With USGBC's comment period closing in 12 hours, LEEDuser must close this forum as of now as an officlal place to comment. Please visit USGBC directly to make an official comment in the next 12 hours. Thanks for the great discussion!

March 27, 2012 - 11:21 am

It would have been fine if they had just posted the time somewhere (anywhere) on the LEED 2012 page or in an e-blast.

March 27, 2012 - 7:27 am

Based on the USGBC homepage, I had been telling people last night
that the comment period closes today at 9 a.m. EDT. However, I received
the following communication thiis morning from USGBC:

Despite our efforts to widely communicate the one-week extension for
third public comment, overnight we heard from a few folks who  thought
they had all of Tuesday, rather than the 9 am EST cut-off we had
communicated.  Since it won’t materially affect the schedule, we’re
extending the cut-off until 5 pm EST today, March 27, 2012.

March 27, 2012 - 11:21 am

USGBC: It is problematic to close your public comment period at 9 am Eastern (before many of us on the West Coast are even awake). Most of us are referencing your public comment period website, which does not list a time:

The LEED 2012 third public comment period is now open from March 1-27, 2012 which marks the start of the LEED 2012 program delivery process. This third draft of the rating system is focused on providing a globally applicable, simple-to-use, technically advanced system. Members of the public can comment on any substantive changes made since the second public comment period, which ran from August 1 through September 14, 2011. Once the comment period process concludes, LEED 2012 will be balloted in June and launch in November.

Important Dates
•March 1-27: Third Public Comment period is open
•April 2-May 1: LEED 2012 Ballot Opt-In Period for members in good standing
•June 1-30: LEED 2012 Ballot Voting Period

March 26, 2012 - 8:44 pm

USGBC has a time posted of 9 a.m. EDT on the 27th. Where did I read that? The only place I could find it was their homepage http://www.usgbc.org/

Sorry, but LEEDuser has to comply with USGBC's rules and we need a little bit of time before 9 a.m. to herd up these comments into the format they like.

March 26, 2012 - 8:30 pm

Tristan, you say 12 hours - that's pretty specific. I didn't see a time anywhere on USGBC's page. Am I missing something? I don't see why they would want to close the public comment at 5:30 am on the end date.

March 20, 2012 - 12:45 pm

I can't help but notice that the new credit is double the amount of documentation for the same number of points-- and arguably, the same amount of environmental benefit-- as LEED 2009. (Since we will now be documentating both density and diverse uses).

April 27, 2012 - 9:31 am

I think Susann hits the sore spot. Maybe there exists an expediated or simpler way. Tracing building footprints in google earth for area and multiplying by number of floors (street view or photos?). Whether they are residential or commertial is problematic.

March 20, 2012 - 4:44 pm

Uh oh, I'm being quoted.

March 20, 2012 - 4:15 pm

This going to be a problem for international projects in particular since development density requires us to know the gross square footage and site area of surrounding buildings. There is no data available or it's ony chattered. Even worse because of privacy laws, which protect people and companies from having data collected and /or distributed without their consensus. So there probably never will be such a data base in Europe. But without a questions buildings located in the inner city cores in Europe have the development density. I wish I could just use the zoning maps, which show the factor of GSF vs. site for each property, but you aren't allowed to use that. I suggest to allow projects located in an area zoned as city center by the local authorities to use proof of that instead.

Even worse non -residential vs residential GSF. Sure the building owners will give me that information no problem.

So much agree with Julie and Mara. I could take some photos of the surrounding and you can see right away this is an area with lots of residential and commercial in a great mix, but instead I see myself counting mail boxes and door bells and guesstimating GSF to confirm something rather obvious.

March 20, 2012 - 1:30 pm

YES! And in recognition of Bill Swanson's "Shawshank Redemption" comment (http://www.leeduser.com/topic/leed-2012-usgbc-3rd-public-comment#comment...)... I'll add a similar comment to yours on the on the front page.

March 20, 2012 - 1:03 pm

Hi Julie, I noticed this too. It feels like a trend in 2012 in general. I posted a comment on the main page here that says that many of the credits are high in documentation time (therefore cost) but don't necessarily guarantee improved performance for that extra effort. This is definitely one of those credits.

March 19, 2012 - 2:54 pm

I really like some of the changes that LEED 2012 makes with respect to historic and blighted buildings. However, I think that they would be better addressed under the intent of the LT High Priority Site credit than the MR Reuse credit. The first MR credit awards four points for reusing either a historic landmark or a blighted building, whereas other building reuse is only eligible for up to three points – effectively allotting a point to reuse of a historic or blighted building (as long as it’s meeting the other requirements).

This feels better aligned with the intent of the LT High Priority Site credit, “To encourage project location in areas with major development constraints but also the potential for significant economic and social revitalization.” That credit currently gives two points for infill sites in a historic district, brownfields, or various government-identified redevelopment priority areas. I think that blighted and historic buildings absolutely meet this credit intent, and I think that they are just as deserving of those two points as the other current options.

Even if USGBC does not agree with the point weighting, then I still think that historic/blighted buildings should be rewarded under the LT credit (for one point if not two) instead of the MR credit. The intent of this credit is better aligned than the MR credit. Those buildings would also hopefully get the MR points as well.

If historic/blighted buildings were moved out of the first MR credit, then either general building reuse could be given an additional point (for four total) or an additional point could be made available for one of the other MR credits -- some are trying to achieve a lot, but aren't heavily rewarded.

March 16, 2012 - 6:00 pm

Doesn't it make sense for this credit to be available to all building types? Previous NC, CS, CI versions of the LEED rating system supported the electric/biofuel vehicle movement, it is unclear why the USGBC / GBCI would significantly reduce their support that movement now.

March 20, 2012 - 12:13 pm

Melissa- I absolutely agree. We are just now seeing an wider-scale adoption of electric vehicles in our region, and LEED could help to make electric vehicle charging mainstream on every kind of project. Isn't this exactly what LEED is intended to do?

March 12, 2012 - 1:22 pm

A project with a zoning requirement for 100 spaces may not build 101 if it hopes to earn the LEED credit, but cannot build 99 and meet zoning. This leaves no margin for field changes (something else doesn't fit & a parking space must be eliminated) or Owner-initiated changes (add a dumpster, add a play set, convert regular spaces to ADA spaces for a net loss in capacity). This requirement for pinpoint accuracy without flexibility is consistent with previous versions, but allowing 110% of zoning not to exceed two additional spaces would be more practical.