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LEED v2009
Existing Building Operations
Sustainable Sites
Site Development—Protect or Restore Open Habitat

LEED CREDIT

EBOM-2009 SSc5: Site development - protect or restore open habitat 1 point

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Requirements

During the performance period, have in place native1 or adapted vegetation2 covering a minimum of 25% of the total site area (excluding the building footprint) or 5% of the total site area (including the building footprint), whichever is greater. Improving and/or maintaining off-site areas with native or adapted plants can contribute toward earning this credit provided the improvement and maintenance are documented in a contract with the owner of the off-site area. Every 2 square feet off-site can be counted as 1 square foot on-site. Other ecologically appropriate features that contribute to this credit are natural site elements beyond vegetation that maintain or restore the ecological integrity of the site, including water bodies, exposed rock, unvegetated ground or other features that are part of the historic natural landscape within the region and provide habitat value.

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Frequently asked questions

Do potted native/adapted plants count towards this credit?

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Is there a requirement for how close the off-site area must be to the LEED project location? We’re looking into supporting a habitat area in a different state or possibly a different country but we want to be sure this is acceptable.

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We’re going to provide restoration/maintenance services to an off-site property. What should we do to document this?

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Does the contract with an off-site property owner need to be in place before the performance period begins?

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As part of our contract with the off-site property owner we will provide labor services to help restore/maintain the site. Does this work need to be performed and completed before the performance period begins, so that the restored habitat is in place over the entire performance period?

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Is there a requirement for how long financial support or labor services must be provided to an off-site area?

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What level of financial commitment do we need to make when pursuing the off-site option?

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Our organization owns, manages and protects a large parcel of land that meets the requirements of this credit. We only need a portion of the total parcel area to meet the credit space requirement. Do we have to allocate the entire parcel to this LEED project?

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Addenda

8/1/2011Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text for "Building footprint" to be "Building footprint is the area on a project site used by the building structure, defined by the perimeter of the building plan. Parking lots, parking garages, landscapes, and other nonbuilding facilities are not included in the building footprint."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
3/4/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is a high rise commercial office tower and public plaza developed in a high-pedestrian traffic area of downtown San Francisco. The limited area of public plaza required the majority of exterior, horizontal plaza surface area be dedicated to the high volume pedestrian uses thus limiting our ability to protect or restore enough area with vegetation to achieve the open space requirements of SSc5.1 In an effort to find an alternative and creative way to both meet the high volume pedestrian traffic needs of urban downtown development and increase the planting and habitat possibilities beyond the limits of the ground plane, we have designed a living wall along the west edge of the site. This living wall will cover 3,750 SF of vertical space (making use of otherwise useless space in front of the adjacent building\'s blank concrete lot line wall) and consists of four levels of planters supported by a structural frame and is faced with cables to promote spread of vines. Plantings will consist of locally adapted vines and native interplantings to limit required irrigation and to promote biodiversity. Much like a green roof, a suggested strategy for meeting the SS5.1 requirements, the living wall will create habitat for local bird and insect species. For example, we have specified native California Lilac (Ceanothus spp.) to attract bumble bees and adapted Blue Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) to attract Heliconian butterfly species. (A complete list of native and adapted plant materials would be included in the credit submittal.) Additionally, this type of vertical for open space, will also create a stepping stone habitat creating urban oasis\'s that will encourage the return of regional bird, bee and butterfly species into the urban core of downtown San Francisco. We believe this site will also serve as an early link in a greater future habitat corridor of living walls and green roofs (including a few others already in design and construction) This corridor will eventually allow for regional species to move through the city and result in a downtown environment that supports a much greater biodiversity. Although the methods proposed for a living wall design are not directly spelled out in the suggested SSc5.1 implementation strategies, we believe the above approach is consistent with the intent and meets the restoration requirements through vertical application of native and adapted plants. Please confirm it will be acceptable to include the living wall design, as described above, as a vertical landscape habitat and therefore be allowed to be included in the area calculations demonstrating compliance for SSc5.1 and SSc5.2. If this is not an acceptable approach, please state what would qualify a living wall to satisfy the intent of open space for SSc5.1 and SSc5.2

Ruling:

The intent of SS Credit 5.1 is to protect natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Although living walls or vertical landscaping may provide limited habitat for certain species adapted to urban areas, the credit language does not currently allow for use of this approach in calculating area compliance. The proposed vegetated cable trellises described in this CIR do not meet SS Credit 5.1credit requirements. The vertical approach also does not meet the intent or requirements of SS Credit 5.2. Open space is calculated as horizontally defined area. Urban examples of applicable open space described in the Reference Guide include pocket parks, accessible roof decks, plazas and courtyards with a minimum of 25% of the area being vegetated. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
5/9/2011
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

If a project adds significant topography to a previously flat site, can the team use surface area instead of projected, flat, 2-D area to document the amount of native area planted?

Ruling:

Yes, this is acceptable since the vegetation maintains its relationship with the soil and provides more valuable habitat area than a flat site. If the surface area method is used, the Total Site Area used in credit calculations must also be based on the surface area rather than the projected area. Applicable internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
8/23/2005
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

The campus at Callaway Gardens includes 14,000 acres of land. This is a naturally biodiverse region where the Piedmont, Coastal Plain and Appalachian Mountain plant communities overlap. Over 93% of our property is in greenspace despite being a venue that up to three quarters of a million people visit each year. Historically, portions of our land were severely impacted by erosion and poor farming practices. Most of the construction and building on this property has occurred on already severely impacted sites. In order to further protect the land Callaway recently placed 2507 acres of our most biologically diverse land in a permanent conservation easement under the Federal Forest Legacy program. We gave up the development rights but retained the rights to manage the land pro-actively for biodiversity and quality wildlife habitat. The Georgia Forestry Commission monitors our compliance with the terms of this easement on an annual basis. The land under permanent conservation protection at Callaway has been dedicated as the Preserve at Callaway. A board of conservation professionals guides activities on The Preserve. The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Columbus State University are all represented on our Board. In 2002 Callaway designated 5.27 acres adjacent to the conference center as open space. Due to the success of the conference center, there is now a need for additional lodging space to serve the conference center. Callaway would like to locate the hotel adjacent to the conference center for a variety of reasons. - Infrastructure (roads, parking, water, sewer, electricity, gas, telephone) serving the conference center can also serve the hotel. - Conference center attendees can walk from the hotel to the conference center rather than being shuttled from another site at the Gardens. - Service deliveries (food, waste disposal, supplies) can be combined for the both the conference center and the hotel. These reasons reduce both economic costs and the environmental impacts of the new hotel. In order to locate the new hotel next to the conference center, the hotel will sit on a portion of the land designated as open space in 2002. Callaway intends to register this new project as a LEED-NC project and pursue SS Credit 5.2 using the "campus setting" approach in coordination with the proposal below. Callaway proposes the following in regards to the land it designated in 2002 as open space: - Using the campus setting, it is our desire to synergistically preserve additional bio-diverse greenspace adjacent to land already under permanent conservation protection. We propose to designate 5.27 acres of bio-diverse land currently owned by Callaway that is adjacent to land already being preserved under its Forest Legacy project. This land will aid in protecting a creek by providing a broader vegetative buffer. In addition this land will help protect a population of Southern Twayblade a plant listed as rare by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The public will have access to this land through naturalist-guided hikes. - Stewardship of these 5.27 acres will be transferred to The Preserve at Callaway. The Preserve\'s mission is: To operate The Preserve as a model of responsible land and wildlife stewardship through conservation, habitat management, sustainable forestry and watershed protection as well as to promote responsible public enjoyment of the land. - Allow construction of the hotel to occur on the land designated as open space in 2002. While this land is open space, in the context of our property it is considered to be "brownfields." The land is highly impacted, there is low species diversity and the health of many of the trees is poor. The land set aside that we want to trade for the one established originally is richer, biodiverse land that protects a watershed and provides nature education opportunities. Is this acceptable?

Ruling:

The project is planning to build on 5.27 acres of land previously designated as open space and set aside and preserve 5.27 acres of land located within the 14,000 acre boundary of the Callaway property, and next to biologically diverse land already under permanent conservation protection. The proposal is acceptable but project must demonstrate that the land being declared as open space meets the requirements of the credit and also confirm that the land is not also being counted for another LEED project. (If the conference center was a LEED-NC project for which the land was previously designated then the total area of land set aside as open space must fulfill the requirement for both projects.) In addition, the new conservation easement must be at least as biologically valuable as the land now being developed (provide a short narrative within the LEED submittal). If the building site is designated as a "brownfield" by LEED requirements the project is encouraged to apply for credit SSc3, Brownfield Redevelopment.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
9/4/2006
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project site is previously developed and over 50% of it is currently vegetated with bahia grass. We would like to achieve credit compliance by protecting this existing grassed area. Previous credit interpretations have stated that a monoculture of a single species turf grass does not meet the intent of this credit for providing habitat and promoting biodiversity. They have also stated that the maintenance effort of mowing is not in line with a truly native/adapted installation. We plan to overseed the existing grass with native wildflowers in order to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Implementation will utilize best management practices for design, construction, and management to promote natural regeneration and dispersal of native wildflowers. Wildflower species will be selected using various criteria including but not limited to: color, height, length and season of bloom, compatibility, tolerance to weeds, cultural requirements i.e. tolerance of poor soils, low maintenance, and drought tolerance. Maintenance requires seasonal mowing and alternate mowing patterns during the bloom season to encourage these native species to become established. Will this approach meet the intent of this credit?

Ruling:

Overseeding an existing area of bahia grass with native wildflowers does not fully meet the intent and requirements of SS Credit 5.1. As noted in the credit\'s requirements, native/adapted plants are indigenous to a locality or cultivars of native plants that are adapted to the local climate and are not considered invasive species or noxious weeds. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service lists bahia grass on their list of Invasive and Noxious Weeds. Additionally, Bahia grass forms a tough dense mat that allows it to compete successfully with other species, precluding the restoration and establishment of native or adapted vegetation.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
11/4/2002
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Based upon our understanding of the LEED Reference Guide, we are expecting to receive one LEED credit (SS5.1) for restoring a minimum of 50% of the remaining open area with native and adapted meadow grasses. Please confirm our understanding (supported by our landscape architect) that the use of meadow grasses will meet the criteria. A spec section could be forwarded for your review if necessary.

Ruling:

The LEED Interpretation for Inquiry Number 185 states that "a landscape architect can determine if a specific plant species qualifies as \'native or adaptive\' for a project location." Therefore, your submittals should include a statement from your landscape architect confirming that the species of meadowgrass selected for the project is appropriate for your region, and will contribute to the restoration of your previously developed site to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Keep in mind that the credit requirements are different for greenfield vs. previously developed sites. Please also note that the LEED Reference Guide should read \'adaptive\' vegetation rather than adapted, on Page 39. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/27/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project proposes to use a large facade as a vertical \'green\' wall. The wall will be fully planted with appropriate vegetation and climbers. The final details of the wall, the supporting planter points and type of vegetation are still be assessed, but can you advise whether this wall surface can contribute to the vegetation calculations for SS-C5.1?

Ruling:

A vertical \'green wall\' cannot be applied to the vegetation calculations under SSc5.1. NC v2.2 SSc5.1 CIR ruling dated 3/4/2008 clearly states that although living walls or vertical landscaping may provide limited habitat, the intent of this credit is to protect natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Under this credit open space is calculated as horizontally defined area. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

What qualities must a vegetated roof have in order to count towards SSc5.1? Can roofs that provide a plant mix shown to promote appropriate biodiversity be eligible to earn SSc5.1? Does an all-sedum plant mix meet the SSc5.1 intent of providing habitat and promoting biodiversity?

Ruling:

The primary goal of this credit is to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. To satisfy the intent of the credit, the vegetated roof must be an intensive roof system, where the depth of the growing medium is 6 inches or more. Where the vegetated roof is a combination of intensive and extensive roof systems, only the intensive portions of the roof can count towards SSc5.1 Site Development-Protect or Restore Habitat. Applicable Internationally.Intensive roofs are vegetated roofs that support a wider variety of plants (including shrubs and trees) than extensive roofs, and have greater soil volume. The depth of the growing medium is an important factor in determining habitat value. The native or adapted plants selected for the roof should support the endemic wildlife populations of the site. More information on vegetated roofs can be found at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (http://greenroofs.org/).Sedums used on vegetated roofs should provide a level of species diversity similar to the native habitat of the project\'s region. Generally, green roofs with less than six varieties of sedum are considered a monoculture and cannot be used to earn this credit (though they may contribute to the achievement other credits). Project teams considering the use of sedum should note that the selected species should enhance the biodiversity of the region and blend with the local habitat.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/23/2006
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our question refers to the method of calculation for compliance with Credit SSc5.1- Protect or Restore Habitat of LEED NC 2.2; particularly how to calculate total applicable site area when including a vegetated roof surface. Credit requirements state that on previously developed sites, a project must restore a minimum of 50% of the site area (excluding building footprint) with native or adapted vegetation. It also states that projects in dense urban areas (earning SSc2) may apply vegetated roof surface to this calculation if the plants meet the definition of native/adapted. Our project site, located in Manhattan, New York, is 80,332 square feet and includes a building footprint of 48,090 square feet, leaving an applicable site area of 32,242 square feet excluding building footprint. The project has 16,447 square feet of vegetated roof and 4,000 square feet of plaza planters, all with native/adapted plantings. This totals 20,447 square feet of native/adaptive vegetation within the 32,242 square foot site (excluding building footprint), and restores 63% of the habitat. Please confirm that this calculation methodology is acceptable.

Ruling:

Your inquiry uncovers an omission in the credit requirements regarding the green roof option. This ruling provides clarification regarding credit calculation to address your project as well as those with little or no building setback (i.e. zero-lot-line). When including a green roof in the calculations for this credit, the requirement is 20% of the TOTAL site area (including building footprint). As a result, calculations will have the total native/adapted vegetated area in the numerator and the total project site area in the denominator. In your case, this would be 20,447 sq.ft. / 80,332 sq.ft. = 25%. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/17/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

This CIR seeks clarification on whether tree canopy area can be counted in the area calculations for native/adaptive vegetation restoration. The project is a 500,000 SF mixed-use tower in a dense urban environment located on an infill, previously developed site. The site is bordered by bike lanes and light rail and is located within blocks of the city\'s mass transit hub. The project replaces an older 2-story building and the owner voluntarily dedicated the neighboring block (formerly surface parking) to the City to be developed into a park. This park is an extension of the City\'s "Park Blocks", which are natural areas that stretch from North to South through the City providing passive/active open space for people and birds. The project site area is 20,000 sf (full block) and the building footprint is approximately 18,000sf. Per SSc5.1, the required restored area is approximately 1,000sf. The project is adding street trees in the sidewalk. In plan, each tree canopy is shown to cover about 100 square feet. In this urban environment, avian species are the most common and the tree selection criteria balances code requirements, drought tolerance and capacity to support birds. The project will also include some vegetation on the upper floor terraces, the area of which is still being determined. Being located adjacent to the Park Blocks, the trees will provide some natural connection to these other heavily wooded areas in the City. When calculating "vegetated area", may I include any (or all) of the tree canopy area in the calculation of restored area?

Ruling:

This urban infill project is proposing to include the tree canopy area as restored area. This approach does not meet the intent of conserving existing natural areas and restoring damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. While tree canopies allow for a limited amount of species to return and live, the resulting hardscape below prevents the area from being truly restored to a natural condition. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
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WSP USA
Project Director

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Requirements

During the performance period, have in place native1 or adapted vegetation2 covering a minimum of 25% of the total site area (excluding the building footprint) or 5% of the total site area (including the building footprint), whichever is greater. Improving and/or maintaining off-site areas with native or adapted plants can contribute toward earning this credit provided the improvement and maintenance are documented in a contract with the owner of the off-site area. Every 2 square feet off-site can be counted as 1 square foot on-site. Other ecologically appropriate features that contribute to this credit are natural site elements beyond vegetation that maintain or restore the ecological integrity of the site, including water bodies, exposed rock, unvegetated ground or other features that are part of the historic natural landscape within the region and provide habitat value.

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Do potted native/adapted plants count towards this credit?

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Is there a requirement for how close the off-site area must be to the LEED project location? We’re looking into supporting a habitat area in a different state or possibly a different country but we want to be sure this is acceptable.

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

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We’re going to provide restoration/maintenance services to an off-site property. What should we do to document this?

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Does the contract with an off-site property owner need to be in place before the performance period begins?

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As part of our contract with the off-site property owner we will provide labor services to help restore/maintain the site. Does this work need to be performed and completed before the performance period begins, so that the restored habitat is in place over the entire performance period?

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

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Is there a requirement for how long financial support or labor services must be provided to an off-site area?

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What level of financial commitment do we need to make when pursuing the off-site option?

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

Our organization owns, manages and protects a large parcel of land that meets the requirements of this credit. We only need a portion of the total parcel area to meet the credit space requirement. Do we have to allocate the entire parcel to this LEED project?

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

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8/1/2011Updated: 2/14/2015
Reference Guide Correction
Description of change:
Revise the text for "Building footprint" to be "Building footprint is the area on a project site used by the building structure, defined by the perimeter of the building plan. Parking lots, parking garages, landscapes, and other nonbuilding facilities are not included in the building footprint."
Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
3/4/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project is a high rise commercial office tower and public plaza developed in a high-pedestrian traffic area of downtown San Francisco. The limited area of public plaza required the majority of exterior, horizontal plaza surface area be dedicated to the high volume pedestrian uses thus limiting our ability to protect or restore enough area with vegetation to achieve the open space requirements of SSc5.1 In an effort to find an alternative and creative way to both meet the high volume pedestrian traffic needs of urban downtown development and increase the planting and habitat possibilities beyond the limits of the ground plane, we have designed a living wall along the west edge of the site. This living wall will cover 3,750 SF of vertical space (making use of otherwise useless space in front of the adjacent building\'s blank concrete lot line wall) and consists of four levels of planters supported by a structural frame and is faced with cables to promote spread of vines. Plantings will consist of locally adapted vines and native interplantings to limit required irrigation and to promote biodiversity. Much like a green roof, a suggested strategy for meeting the SS5.1 requirements, the living wall will create habitat for local bird and insect species. For example, we have specified native California Lilac (Ceanothus spp.) to attract bumble bees and adapted Blue Passionflower (Passiflora caerulea) to attract Heliconian butterfly species. (A complete list of native and adapted plant materials would be included in the credit submittal.) Additionally, this type of vertical for open space, will also create a stepping stone habitat creating urban oasis\'s that will encourage the return of regional bird, bee and butterfly species into the urban core of downtown San Francisco. We believe this site will also serve as an early link in a greater future habitat corridor of living walls and green roofs (including a few others already in design and construction) This corridor will eventually allow for regional species to move through the city and result in a downtown environment that supports a much greater biodiversity. Although the methods proposed for a living wall design are not directly spelled out in the suggested SSc5.1 implementation strategies, we believe the above approach is consistent with the intent and meets the restoration requirements through vertical application of native and adapted plants. Please confirm it will be acceptable to include the living wall design, as described above, as a vertical landscape habitat and therefore be allowed to be included in the area calculations demonstrating compliance for SSc5.1 and SSc5.2. If this is not an acceptable approach, please state what would qualify a living wall to satisfy the intent of open space for SSc5.1 and SSc5.2

Ruling:

The intent of SS Credit 5.1 is to protect natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Although living walls or vertical landscaping may provide limited habitat for certain species adapted to urban areas, the credit language does not currently allow for use of this approach in calculating area compliance. The proposed vegetated cable trellises described in this CIR do not meet SS Credit 5.1credit requirements. The vertical approach also does not meet the intent or requirements of SS Credit 5.2. Open space is calculated as horizontally defined area. Urban examples of applicable open space described in the Reference Guide include pocket parks, accessible roof decks, plazas and courtyards with a minimum of 25% of the area being vegetated. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
5/9/2011
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

If a project adds significant topography to a previously flat site, can the team use surface area instead of projected, flat, 2-D area to document the amount of native area planted?

Ruling:

Yes, this is acceptable since the vegetation maintains its relationship with the soil and provides more valuable habitat area than a flat site. If the surface area method is used, the Total Site Area used in credit calculations must also be based on the surface area rather than the projected area. Applicable internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
8/23/2005
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

The campus at Callaway Gardens includes 14,000 acres of land. This is a naturally biodiverse region where the Piedmont, Coastal Plain and Appalachian Mountain plant communities overlap. Over 93% of our property is in greenspace despite being a venue that up to three quarters of a million people visit each year. Historically, portions of our land were severely impacted by erosion and poor farming practices. Most of the construction and building on this property has occurred on already severely impacted sites. In order to further protect the land Callaway recently placed 2507 acres of our most biologically diverse land in a permanent conservation easement under the Federal Forest Legacy program. We gave up the development rights but retained the rights to manage the land pro-actively for biodiversity and quality wildlife habitat. The Georgia Forestry Commission monitors our compliance with the terms of this easement on an annual basis. The land under permanent conservation protection at Callaway has been dedicated as the Preserve at Callaway. A board of conservation professionals guides activities on The Preserve. The Conservation Fund, The Nature Conservancy, The Georgia Conservancy, Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Columbus State University are all represented on our Board. In 2002 Callaway designated 5.27 acres adjacent to the conference center as open space. Due to the success of the conference center, there is now a need for additional lodging space to serve the conference center. Callaway would like to locate the hotel adjacent to the conference center for a variety of reasons. - Infrastructure (roads, parking, water, sewer, electricity, gas, telephone) serving the conference center can also serve the hotel. - Conference center attendees can walk from the hotel to the conference center rather than being shuttled from another site at the Gardens. - Service deliveries (food, waste disposal, supplies) can be combined for the both the conference center and the hotel. These reasons reduce both economic costs and the environmental impacts of the new hotel. In order to locate the new hotel next to the conference center, the hotel will sit on a portion of the land designated as open space in 2002. Callaway intends to register this new project as a LEED-NC project and pursue SS Credit 5.2 using the "campus setting" approach in coordination with the proposal below. Callaway proposes the following in regards to the land it designated in 2002 as open space: - Using the campus setting, it is our desire to synergistically preserve additional bio-diverse greenspace adjacent to land already under permanent conservation protection. We propose to designate 5.27 acres of bio-diverse land currently owned by Callaway that is adjacent to land already being preserved under its Forest Legacy project. This land will aid in protecting a creek by providing a broader vegetative buffer. In addition this land will help protect a population of Southern Twayblade a plant listed as rare by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. The public will have access to this land through naturalist-guided hikes. - Stewardship of these 5.27 acres will be transferred to The Preserve at Callaway. The Preserve\'s mission is: To operate The Preserve as a model of responsible land and wildlife stewardship through conservation, habitat management, sustainable forestry and watershed protection as well as to promote responsible public enjoyment of the land. - Allow construction of the hotel to occur on the land designated as open space in 2002. While this land is open space, in the context of our property it is considered to be "brownfields." The land is highly impacted, there is low species diversity and the health of many of the trees is poor. The land set aside that we want to trade for the one established originally is richer, biodiverse land that protects a watershed and provides nature education opportunities. Is this acceptable?

Ruling:

The project is planning to build on 5.27 acres of land previously designated as open space and set aside and preserve 5.27 acres of land located within the 14,000 acre boundary of the Callaway property, and next to biologically diverse land already under permanent conservation protection. The proposal is acceptable but project must demonstrate that the land being declared as open space meets the requirements of the credit and also confirm that the land is not also being counted for another LEED project. (If the conference center was a LEED-NC project for which the land was previously designated then the total area of land set aside as open space must fulfill the requirement for both projects.) In addition, the new conservation easement must be at least as biologically valuable as the land now being developed (provide a short narrative within the LEED submittal). If the building site is designated as a "brownfield" by LEED requirements the project is encouraged to apply for credit SSc3, Brownfield Redevelopment.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
9/4/2006
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project site is previously developed and over 50% of it is currently vegetated with bahia grass. We would like to achieve credit compliance by protecting this existing grassed area. Previous credit interpretations have stated that a monoculture of a single species turf grass does not meet the intent of this credit for providing habitat and promoting biodiversity. They have also stated that the maintenance effort of mowing is not in line with a truly native/adapted installation. We plan to overseed the existing grass with native wildflowers in order to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Implementation will utilize best management practices for design, construction, and management to promote natural regeneration and dispersal of native wildflowers. Wildflower species will be selected using various criteria including but not limited to: color, height, length and season of bloom, compatibility, tolerance to weeds, cultural requirements i.e. tolerance of poor soils, low maintenance, and drought tolerance. Maintenance requires seasonal mowing and alternate mowing patterns during the bloom season to encourage these native species to become established. Will this approach meet the intent of this credit?

Ruling:

Overseeding an existing area of bahia grass with native wildflowers does not fully meet the intent and requirements of SS Credit 5.1. As noted in the credit\'s requirements, native/adapted plants are indigenous to a locality or cultivars of native plants that are adapted to the local climate and are not considered invasive species or noxious weeds. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service lists bahia grass on their list of Invasive and Noxious Weeds. Additionally, Bahia grass forms a tough dense mat that allows it to compete successfully with other species, precluding the restoration and establishment of native or adapted vegetation.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
No
11/4/2002
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Based upon our understanding of the LEED Reference Guide, we are expecting to receive one LEED credit (SS5.1) for restoring a minimum of 50% of the remaining open area with native and adapted meadow grasses. Please confirm our understanding (supported by our landscape architect) that the use of meadow grasses will meet the criteria. A spec section could be forwarded for your review if necessary.

Ruling:

The LEED Interpretation for Inquiry Number 185 states that "a landscape architect can determine if a specific plant species qualifies as \'native or adaptive\' for a project location." Therefore, your submittals should include a statement from your landscape architect confirming that the species of meadowgrass selected for the project is appropriate for your region, and will contribute to the restoration of your previously developed site to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Keep in mind that the credit requirements are different for greenfield vs. previously developed sites. Please also note that the LEED Reference Guide should read \'adaptive\' vegetation rather than adapted, on Page 39. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/27/2009
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our project proposes to use a large facade as a vertical \'green\' wall. The wall will be fully planted with appropriate vegetation and climbers. The final details of the wall, the supporting planter points and type of vegetation are still be assessed, but can you advise whether this wall surface can contribute to the vegetation calculations for SS-C5.1?

Ruling:

A vertical \'green wall\' cannot be applied to the vegetation calculations under SSc5.1. NC v2.2 SSc5.1 CIR ruling dated 3/4/2008 clearly states that although living walls or vertical landscaping may provide limited habitat, the intent of this credit is to protect natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. Under this credit open space is calculated as horizontally defined area. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/1/2012
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

What qualities must a vegetated roof have in order to count towards SSc5.1? Can roofs that provide a plant mix shown to promote appropriate biodiversity be eligible to earn SSc5.1? Does an all-sedum plant mix meet the SSc5.1 intent of providing habitat and promoting biodiversity?

Ruling:

The primary goal of this credit is to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. To satisfy the intent of the credit, the vegetated roof must be an intensive roof system, where the depth of the growing medium is 6 inches or more. Where the vegetated roof is a combination of intensive and extensive roof systems, only the intensive portions of the roof can count towards SSc5.1 Site Development-Protect or Restore Habitat. Applicable Internationally.Intensive roofs are vegetated roofs that support a wider variety of plants (including shrubs and trees) than extensive roofs, and have greater soil volume. The depth of the growing medium is an important factor in determining habitat value. The native or adapted plants selected for the roof should support the endemic wildlife populations of the site. More information on vegetated roofs can be found at Green Roofs for Healthy Cities (http://greenroofs.org/).Sedums used on vegetated roofs should provide a level of species diversity similar to the native habitat of the project\'s region. Generally, green roofs with less than six varieties of sedum are considered a monoculture and cannot be used to earn this credit (though they may contribute to the achievement other credits). Project teams considering the use of sedum should note that the selected species should enhance the biodiversity of the region and blend with the local habitat.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
7/23/2006
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

Our question refers to the method of calculation for compliance with Credit SSc5.1- Protect or Restore Habitat of LEED NC 2.2; particularly how to calculate total applicable site area when including a vegetated roof surface. Credit requirements state that on previously developed sites, a project must restore a minimum of 50% of the site area (excluding building footprint) with native or adapted vegetation. It also states that projects in dense urban areas (earning SSc2) may apply vegetated roof surface to this calculation if the plants meet the definition of native/adapted. Our project site, located in Manhattan, New York, is 80,332 square feet and includes a building footprint of 48,090 square feet, leaving an applicable site area of 32,242 square feet excluding building footprint. The project has 16,447 square feet of vegetated roof and 4,000 square feet of plaza planters, all with native/adapted plantings. This totals 20,447 square feet of native/adaptive vegetation within the 32,242 square foot site (excluding building footprint), and restores 63% of the habitat. Please confirm that this calculation methodology is acceptable.

Ruling:

Your inquiry uncovers an omission in the credit requirements regarding the green roof option. This ruling provides clarification regarding credit calculation to address your project as well as those with little or no building setback (i.e. zero-lot-line). When including a green roof in the calculations for this credit, the requirement is 20% of the TOTAL site area (including building footprint). As a result, calculations will have the total native/adapted vegetated area in the numerator and the total project site area in the denominator. In your case, this would be 20,447 sq.ft. / 80,332 sq.ft. = 25%. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes
10/17/2008
LEED Interpretation
Inquiry:

This CIR seeks clarification on whether tree canopy area can be counted in the area calculations for native/adaptive vegetation restoration. The project is a 500,000 SF mixed-use tower in a dense urban environment located on an infill, previously developed site. The site is bordered by bike lanes and light rail and is located within blocks of the city\'s mass transit hub. The project replaces an older 2-story building and the owner voluntarily dedicated the neighboring block (formerly surface parking) to the City to be developed into a park. This park is an extension of the City\'s "Park Blocks", which are natural areas that stretch from North to South through the City providing passive/active open space for people and birds. The project site area is 20,000 sf (full block) and the building footprint is approximately 18,000sf. Per SSc5.1, the required restored area is approximately 1,000sf. The project is adding street trees in the sidewalk. In plan, each tree canopy is shown to cover about 100 square feet. In this urban environment, avian species are the most common and the tree selection criteria balances code requirements, drought tolerance and capacity to support birds. The project will also include some vegetation on the upper floor terraces, the area of which is still being determined. Being located adjacent to the Park Blocks, the trees will provide some natural connection to these other heavily wooded areas in the City. When calculating "vegetated area", may I include any (or all) of the tree canopy area in the calculation of restored area?

Ruling:

This urban infill project is proposing to include the tree canopy area as restored area. This approach does not meet the intent of conserving existing natural areas and restoring damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. While tree canopies allow for a limited amount of species to return and live, the resulting hardscape below prevents the area from being truly restored to a natural condition. Applicable Internationally.

Campus Applicable
No
Internationally Applicable:
Yes

LEEDuser expert

Trista Brown

LEED AP O+M, BD+C, Fitwel Ambassador

WSP USA
Project Director

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