Log in
LEED v4
Core and Shell
Location & Transportation

Sensitive land protection

LEED CREDIT

CS-v4 LTc2: Sensitive land protection 2 points

See all forum discussions about this credit »

SPECIAL REPORT

LEEDuser expert

Blake Jackson

AIA, NCARB, LEED Faculty, WELL Faculty, Fitwel Ambassador

Stantec
Sustainability Design Leader

SPECIAL REPORT

LEEDuser’s viewpoint

Frank advice from LEED experts

LEED is changing all the time, and every project is unique. Even seasoned professionals can miss a critical detail and lose a credit or even a prerequisite at the last minute. Our expert advice guides our LEEDuser Premium members and saves you valuable time.

Credit language

USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Intent

To avoid the development of environmentally sensitive lands and reduce the environmental impact from the location of a building on a site.

Requirements

Option 1.

Locate the development footprint on land that has been previously developed.

OR

Option 2.

Locate the development footprint on land that has been previously developed or that does not meet the following criteria for sensitive land:

OR

  • Prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide or local importance as defined by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Volume 6, Parts 400 to 699, Section 657.5 (or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.) and identified in a state Natural Resources Conservation Service soil survey) or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.). [Canada ACP: Prime Farmland]
  • Floodplains: a flood hazard area shown on a legally adopted flood hazard map or otherwise legally designated by the local jurisdiction or the state. For projects in places without legally adopted flood hazard maps or legal designations, locate on a site that is entirely outside any floodplain subject to a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year. [Europe ACP: Flood Plains]
  • Habitat: Land that is identified as habitat for the following:
    • species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act or the state’s endangered species act [Europe ACP: Habitat], or
    • species or ecological communities classified by NatureServe as GH (possibly extinct), G1 (critically imperiled), or G2 (imperiled), or
    • species listed as threatened or endangered specifies under local equivalent standards (for projects outside the U.S.) that are not covered by NatureServe data.
  • Water bodies: Areas on or within 100 feet (30 meters) of a water body, except for minor improvements.
  • Wetlands: Areas on or within 50 feet (15 meters) of a wetland, except for minor improvements.

Minor improvements within the wetland and water body buffers may be undertaken to enhance appreciation of them, provided such facilities are open to all building users. Only the following improvements are considered minor:

  • Bicycle and pedestrian pathways no more than 12 feet wide (3.5 meters), of which no more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) may be impervious;
  • Activities to maintain or restore native natural communities and/or natural hydrology;
  • One single-story structure per 300 linear feet (90 linear meters) on average, not exceeding 500 square feet (45 square meters);
  • Grade changes necessary to ensure public access;
  • Clearings, limited to one per 300 linear feet (90 linear meters) on average, not exceeding 500 square feet (45 square meters) each;
  • Removal of the following tree types:
    • Hazardous trees, up to 75% of dead trees
    • Trees less than 6 inches (150 millimeters) diameter at breast height
    • Up to 20% of trees more than 6 inches (150 millimeters) diameter at breast height with a condition rating of 40% or higher.
    • Trees under 40% condition rating
      The condition rating must be based on an assessment by an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) using ISA standard measures, or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.
  • Brownfield remediation activities.

Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs)

Canada ACP: Prime Farmland

In Canada, if the project is mapped under the Canada Land Inventory (CLI), then prime farmland is land classified as Class 1, 2 or 3 of this inventory. For projects located on sites not mapped by this inventory, follow global guidance for local equivalents.

Europe ACP: Flood Plains

Projects in Europe may use the Directive 2007/60/EC definition of floods with a medium probability (likely return period ≥ 100 years).

Europe ACP: Threatened and Endangered Species

Projects in Europe may use the Natura 2000 network of protected areas and the European Red List.

SITES-LEED Equivalency

This LEED credit (or a component of this credit) has been established as equivalent to a SITES v2 credit or component. For more information on using the equivalency as a substitution in your LEED or SITES project, see this article and guidance document.

See all forum discussions about this credit »

What does it cost?

Cost estimates for this credit

On each BD+C v4 credit, LEEDuser offers the wisdom of a team of architects, engineers, cost estimators, and LEED experts with hundreds of LEED projects between then. They analyzed the sustainable design strategies associated with each LEED credit, but also to assign actual costs to those strategies.

Our tab contains overall cost guidance, notes on what “soft costs” to expect, and a strategy-by-strategy breakdown of what to consider and what it might cost, in percentage premiums, actual costs, or both.

This information is also available in a full PDF download in The Cost of LEED v4 report.

Learn more about The Cost of LEED v4 »

Frequently asked questions

If we pursue Option 1 do we have to honor the water body buffer of 100 feet and the flood hazard zones?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

When it comes to satisfying the requirements for Option 1, what does the "total buildable land" take into account? And the "total building area"?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

Where do we measure the radius from? In LEED 2009, we measured it from the main entry, but the LEED v4 language is different.

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

How is “previously developed land” defined by LEED?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

For an international project, what if a local equivalent for identifying sensitive habitat cannot be determined?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

See all forum discussions about this credit »

Documentation toolkit

The motherlode of cheat sheets

LEEDuser’s Documentation Toolkit is loaded with calculators to help assess credit compliance, tracking spreadsheets for materials, sample templates to help guide your narratives and LEED Online submissions, and examples of actual submissions from certified LEED projects for you to check your work against. To get your plaque, start with the right toolkit.

LEEDuser expert

Blake Jackson

AIA, NCARB, LEED Faculty, WELL Faculty, Fitwel Ambassador

Stantec
Sustainability Design Leader

Get the inside scoop

Our editors have written a detailed analysis of nearly every LEED credit, and LEEDuser premium members get full access. We’ll tell you whether the credit is easy to accomplish or better left alone, and we provide insider tips on how to document it successfully.

USGBC logo

© Copyright U.S. Green Building Council, Inc. All rights reserved.

Intent

To avoid the development of environmentally sensitive lands and reduce the environmental impact from the location of a building on a site.

Requirements

Option 1.

Locate the development footprint on land that has been previously developed.

OR

Option 2.

Locate the development footprint on land that has been previously developed or that does not meet the following criteria for sensitive land:

OR

  • Prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide or local importance as defined by the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Volume 6, Parts 400 to 699, Section 657.5 (or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.) and identified in a state Natural Resources Conservation Service soil survey) or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.). [Canada ACP: Prime Farmland]
  • Floodplains: a flood hazard area shown on a legally adopted flood hazard map or otherwise legally designated by the local jurisdiction or the state. For projects in places without legally adopted flood hazard maps or legal designations, locate on a site that is entirely outside any floodplain subject to a 1% or greater chance of flooding in any given year. [Europe ACP: Flood Plains]
  • Habitat: Land that is identified as habitat for the following:
    • species listed as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act or the state’s endangered species act [Europe ACP: Habitat], or
    • species or ecological communities classified by NatureServe as GH (possibly extinct), G1 (critically imperiled), or G2 (imperiled), or
    • species listed as threatened or endangered specifies under local equivalent standards (for projects outside the U.S.) that are not covered by NatureServe data.
  • Water bodies: Areas on or within 100 feet (30 meters) of a water body, except for minor improvements.
  • Wetlands: Areas on or within 50 feet (15 meters) of a wetland, except for minor improvements.

Minor improvements within the wetland and water body buffers may be undertaken to enhance appreciation of them, provided such facilities are open to all building users. Only the following improvements are considered minor:

  • Bicycle and pedestrian pathways no more than 12 feet wide (3.5 meters), of which no more than 8 feet (2.5 meters) may be impervious;
  • Activities to maintain or restore native natural communities and/or natural hydrology;
  • One single-story structure per 300 linear feet (90 linear meters) on average, not exceeding 500 square feet (45 square meters);
  • Grade changes necessary to ensure public access;
  • Clearings, limited to one per 300 linear feet (90 linear meters) on average, not exceeding 500 square feet (45 square meters) each;
  • Removal of the following tree types:
    • Hazardous trees, up to 75% of dead trees
    • Trees less than 6 inches (150 millimeters) diameter at breast height
    • Up to 20% of trees more than 6 inches (150 millimeters) diameter at breast height with a condition rating of 40% or higher.
    • Trees under 40% condition rating
      The condition rating must be based on an assessment by an arborist certified by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) using ISA standard measures, or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S.
  • Brownfield remediation activities.

Alternative Compliance Paths (ACPs)

Canada ACP: Prime Farmland

In Canada, if the project is mapped under the Canada Land Inventory (CLI), then prime farmland is land classified as Class 1, 2 or 3 of this inventory. For projects located on sites not mapped by this inventory, follow global guidance for local equivalents.

Europe ACP: Flood Plains

Projects in Europe may use the Directive 2007/60/EC definition of floods with a medium probability (likely return period ≥ 100 years).

Europe ACP: Threatened and Endangered Species

Projects in Europe may use the Natura 2000 network of protected areas and the European Red List.

SITES-LEED Equivalency

This LEED credit (or a component of this credit) has been established as equivalent to a SITES v2 credit or component. For more information on using the equivalency as a substitution in your LEED or SITES project, see this article and guidance document.

Cost estimates for this credit

On each BD+C v4 credit, LEEDuser offers the wisdom of a team of architects, engineers, cost estimators, and LEED experts with hundreds of LEED projects between then. They analyzed the sustainable design strategies associated with each LEED credit, but also to assign actual costs to those strategies.

Our tab contains overall cost guidance, notes on what “soft costs” to expect, and a strategy-by-strategy breakdown of what to consider and what it might cost, in percentage premiums, actual costs, or both.

This information is also available in a full PDF download in The Cost of LEED v4 report.

Learn more about The Cost of LEED v4 »

If we pursue Option 1 do we have to honor the water body buffer of 100 feet and the flood hazard zones?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

When it comes to satisfying the requirements for Option 1, what does the "total buildable land" take into account? And the "total building area"?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

Where do we measure the radius from? In LEED 2009, we measured it from the main entry, but the LEED v4 language is different.

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

How is “previously developed land” defined by LEED?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

For an international project, what if a local equivalent for identifying sensitive habitat cannot be determined?

The answer to this question is available to LEEDuser premium members. Start a free trial »

(If you're already a premium member, log in here.)

LEEDuser expert

Blake Jackson

AIA, NCARB, LEED Faculty, WELL Faculty, Fitwel Ambassador

Stantec
Sustainability Design Leader

See all LEEDuser forum discussions about this credit » Subscribe to new discussions about CS-v4 LTc2