I've seen a couple different comment threads on this, so I just want to make sure we're doing the right thing, as we have 5 points pending. The "Bird's Eye View" of this credit (above) states the following: "Projects with landscaping on less than 5% of their site area cannot earn points here, so consider planters or small gardens to meet that threshold."

It seems to me this requirement has been taken out of context. If one reviews the instructions from LEED User online for filling out this credit - the 5% is required if using PLANTERS ONLY to achieve this credit. On page 1 of the LEED template, if you click on the box that states "Project conditions do not allow for installation of vegetation on the grounds. Therefore planters, a vegetated roof, and/or a courtyard landscape have been installed to achieve credit compliance. (Optional)" ...then, and only then - 5% becomes criteria, correct?

We have a project in Djibouti, Africa. There are many many miles and miles, where the ground is basically dirt and rocks. We are providing 30+ native trees in the ground, surrounded by white rock mulch. We have 1 large planter, but everything is irrigated 100% with reclaimed grey water.

After submitting for Design, we received the following comment from USGBC:
"1. The landscaped area reported in the form (450 square feet) is significantly less than 5% of the total site area reported in PIf2: Project Summary Details (97,865 square feet). As outlined in the LEED BD+C v2009 Reference Guide, the vegetated area must cover at least 5% of the project site area (including building footprint, hardscape area, parking footprint, etc.) to be eligible for this credit. Note that reducing the use of potable water for watering any roof and courtyard garden space or outdoor planters is an acceptable approach to earn this credit, provided the planters and garden space cover at least 5% of the total site area. Provide documentation confirming that the landscaped area is equal to at least 5% of the total site area reported in PIf2. Note that the hardscape and rock mulch areas below the tree canopies are not considered vegetated."

Would we be wrong to challenge the USGBC Reviewer on this? Our site DOES allow for vegetation on the grounds. We are providing trees on/in the ground. Does the 5% rule apply to our case? If so, how and where is this specifically documented?