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LEED 2012 – 3rd Public Comment – SS (Sustainble Sites) Section

Discussion of key changes
March 1, 2012

Key changes in the the SS 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 Construction Activity Pollution Prevention prerequisite remains the same after seeing minor changes for the first draft. The only revision is that the 2008 EPA Construction General Permit is now referenced—not 2003.

For schools, the Environmental Site Assessment prerequisite maintains a minor but important change: the blanket exclusion of sites on former landfills has been removed. The wording now also allows non-U.S. standards for site assessments.

The Site Assessment credit, new in the second draft, remains and only gets mild tweaks here. The credit requires a “site survey/assessment,” taking into consideration topography, hydrology, climate, vegetation, soils, and human uses. The credit appears to be a nudge toward integrative design, requiring a narrative on how each topic influenced the project design. A greater social element has been added in this draft: a “human health impacts” assessment, looking at proximity of vulnerable populations, adjacent physical activity opportunities, and proximity to large sources of air pollution.

Brownfield Redevelopment is now Brownfield Remediation, but it has become a LEED-ND credit and is not being offered to building design and construction projects, having essentially been folded into the High Priority Site credit.

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With minor changes, Site Development—Protect or Restore Habitat keeps similar requirements that go back to the first 2012 draft, with a focus on protecting portions of the site from development. The most significant change in this draft is to the option for financial support of offsite protection. Instead of committing $1 per square foot for 20% of the total site area, projects would have to commit only $0.05 per square foot—but for the whole site area.

Since being simplified for the first public comment, Site Development—Open Space again has only minor wording changes. Projects must provide outdoor space equal to 30% of the total site area, including building footprint—stricter than LEED 2009’s comparable Case 3. A minimum of 25% of the outdoor space must have ground or overhead vegetation, not and overhead vegetation. Urban food production is explicitly encouraged.

After the two stormwater credits from LEED 2009 became one credit in the first draft, Rainwater Management, we get more minor wording changes this time. The two options now have names: 95th Percentile and 98th Percentile, with the second option earning an extra point.

Heat Island Reduction remains one credit, not two as in LEED 2009, and in this draft the requirements have narrowed after broadening in the last draft. The building façade is not considered part of the relevant surface area in this draft. Three-year aged SRI values are now referenced, but only as an option, not a requirement.

The requirements behind the Light Pollution Reduction credit have been tweaked, on contrast with the ovehauls of the last two rounds of drafts. The wording of uplight and light trespass requirements have changed, but key metrics have not.

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


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March 26, 2012 - 8:19 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 - 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 20, 2012 - 7:04 pm

There appears to be four options worth a total of two points. There’s an option for Nonroof (1 point), roof (1 point), combination of nonroof and roof (2 points) and parking under cover (1 point). The most confusing aspect of this is that there doesn’t appear to be an option to get 2 points for a combination of parking garage and either roof or non roof surfaces. According to the way we are reading the current version, if a property has an underground parking garage and a reflective roof, they would only get one point, and not credit for both. You should also have an option to achieve 2 points for parking garage and either roof or non-roof, or any combination of the three.

March 16, 2012 - 5:54 pm

Since this credit would need to happen before schematic design - doesn't it make sense to combine it with the Integrative Process section? It already overlaps slightly with the Integrative Process credit.

March 16, 2012 - 5:50 pm

It is unclear whether or not rainwater harvesting techniques are allowed in the reduction calculation for the Rainwater Management credit. If they are not allowed, why?

March 23, 2012 - 11:30 am

I agree, as I read the new language, it is very unclear if rainwater harvesting is acceptable for any credit in LEED now. The wording of reducing "potable water" has been shortened to just "water." There is still clear value in a rainwater harvesting system reducing potable water use, and that should be recognized by LEED.

March 20, 2012 - 6:13 pm

well this credit relates more to rainwater and stormwater issues rather than indoor and outdoor water reduction. I also understand the push for natural and low impact, but that has it's place in some projects but is not feasible in others. And yes the greywater systems are expensive and should play at least some role in the equation.

March 20, 2012 - 6:05 pm

I agree. Captured rainwater or reclaimed water should apply toward both indoor and outdoor water use reduction. LEED should provide some incentive for building owners/developers to include this expensive system which can drastically reduce potable water use. I do not understand why it has not been included in LEED 2012.

March 20, 2012 - 4:37 pm

To your point, what exactly is a "Low impact development"?
I was think this through with a project I finished last year. Almost zero lot line development with an underground infiltration system handling 100% of the rain water, no discharge. It's a rigole, a plastic pipe system, which a lot of times is installed underneath parking areas and always in combination with filters. I think I would get zero points for that, because its not a low impact measure, which I can't possibly realize in a project like that. Also how does rainwater reuse for toilets fit in in this? I think it doesn't?
I would like to see some language, which adds these very common and very much deserving technologies back into the rating system.