GBCI News Feed Gives You Latest LEED Announcements

I recently stumbled on the GBCI Announcements feed, and it’s already led me to discover a few helpful tools that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed (CMP Wizard, anyone?) While some of the feed is the press release variety, many posts cover tools and updates to the documentation process to make it worth scanning at least once a month or so.

Threads are forum topics

They conveniently created a set of RSS feeds to narrow your topics down. Don’t know what an RSS feed is? You need to learn! They make the interwebs function. Even Real Life LEED has an RSS feed.

Learn more at RealLifeLEED.com!

GBCI News Feed Gives You Latest LEED Announcements

I recently stumbled on the GBCI Announcements feed, and it’s already led me to discover a few helpful tools that I wouldn’t have otherwise known existed (CMP Wizard, anyone?) While some of the feed is the press release variety, many posts cover tools and updates to the documentation process to make it worth scanning at least once a month or so.

Threads are forum topics

They conveniently created a set of RSS feeds to narrow your topics down. Don’t know what an RSS feed is? You need to learn! They make the interwebs function. Even Real Life LEED has an RSS feed.

New Guide Provides Instructions For Setting LEED Project/Campus Boundaries

Shortly after complaining about changes about new policy documentation from the GBCI, it occurred to me that the USGBC also published a much needed updated to their Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (2010 AGMBC) that does a good job of clarifying how to document ‘weird’ site conditions. The previous 2005 edition did not have much guidance for how to determine LEED Campus and Project boundaries, an issue the new guide explains in easy to use terms.

If this is your campus boundary, you may want to consider downsizing it a bit

Though both documents provide guidance on how to calculate specific credits when multiple buildings on a similar site are seeking certification, I’m most interested in how to set the Project and Campus boundaries. This process is as much art as it is science, and the new guide goes so far as to say that “guidance on where to draw the LEED Campus Boundary is intentionally non-specific”. This is a good thing, because boundary issues for an urban project with multiple buildings on one well-defined site are going to be different than the issues a campus may face when certifying a single building on a site where the school owns thousands of acres.

Key Issues

Project vs. Site Boundary – For ‘normal’ projects (I’m not sure I’ve worked on a ‘normal’ project yet!), you create a single LEED Project Boundary where all credits are calculated based on what happens within that zone. This is normally supposed to be the legal limits of the site, but many times multiple buildings will eventually be built in Multiple building or campus projects will frequently have two boundaries, a Project Boundary and a Campus Boundary.

The Campus Boundary is normally the entire area that the owner (normally a large developer or university) owns or has control over, but in some instances it will be a subset of that property (e.g. a ‘quad’ of a university campus or one phase of a master development). The purpose of the campus boundary is to allow the project team to take credit for shared infrastructure (e.g. stormwater mitigation efforts, dedicated open space, structured parking) that may serve the project but is not part of the scope of the specific project seeking LEED. It may not contain areas outside of the legal control of the organization seeking certification (e.g. off-campus areas can not be included just because there’s a park there that would help with an open space credit)
The Project Boundary is contained completely within the campus boundary, and is defined as “all land that is associated with and supports normal project operations, including all land that was or will be disturbed for the purpose of undertaking the LEED project.” In other words, it’s the area you’re actually affecting when building the specific project seeking certification. The project team has reasonable discretion in determining this boundary, and past experience has indicated that review teams will accept anything that isn’t clearly ‘juked’ (e.g. including a sliver of a site to connect your project to a park to earn open space).

There’s more to it than stated above, and I strongly suggest you and your consultants read the guide and then sit down to determine boundaries as a group to make sure all credit impacts are considered. In past projects I’ve worked on, stormwater mitigation and light pollution credits had the biggest influence on these boundaries, but parking, open space, and a variety of other credits could come into play as well.

I’m heading to Greenbuild 2010 today… Hope to see you there!

Learn more at RealLifeLEED.com!

New Guide Provides Instructions For Setting LEED Project/Campus Boundaries

Shortly after complaining about changes about new policy documentation from the GBCI, it occurred to me that the USGBC also published a much needed updated to their Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (2010 AGMBC) that does a good job of clarifying how to document ‘weird’ site conditions. The previous 2005 edition did not have much guidance for how to determine LEED Campus and Project boundaries, an issue the new guide explains in easy to use terms.

If this is your campus boundary, you may want to consider downsizing it a bit

Though both documents provide guidance on how to calculate specific credits when multiple buildings on a similar site are seeking certification, I’m most interested in how to set the Project and Campus boundaries. This process is as much art as it is science, and the new guide goes so far as to say that “guidance on where to draw the LEED Campus Boundary is intentionally non-specific”. This is a good thing, because boundary issues for an urban project with multiple buildings on one well-defined site are going to be different than the issues a campus may face when certifying a single building on a site where the school owns thousands of acres.

Key Issues

Project vs. Site Boundary – For ‘normal’ projects (I’m not sure I’ve worked on a ‘normal’ project yet!), you create a single LEED Project Boundary where all credits are calculated based on what happens within that zone. This is normally supposed to be the legal limits of the site, but many times multiple buildings will eventually be built in Multiple building or campus projects will frequently have two boundaries, a Project Boundary and a Campus Boundary.

  • The Campus Boundary is normally the entire area that the owner (normally a large developer or university) owns or has control over, but in some instances it will be a subset of that property (e.g. a ‘quad’ of a university campus or one phase of a master development). The purpose of the campus boundary is to allow the project team to take credit for shared infrastructure (e.g. stormwater mitigation efforts, dedicated open space, structured parking) that may serve the project but is not part of the scope of the specific project seeking LEED. It may not contain areas outside of the legal control of the organization seeking certification (e.g. off-campus areas can not be included just because there’s a park there that would help with an open space credit)
  • The Project Boundary is contained completely within the campus boundary, and is defined as “all land that is associated with and supports normal project operations, including all land that was or will be disturbed for the purpose of undertaking the LEED project.” In other words, it’s the area you’re actually affecting when building the specific project seeking certification. The project team has reasonable discretion in determining this boundary, and past experience has indicated that review teams will accept anything that isn’t clearly ‘juked’ (e.g. including a sliver of a site to connect your project to a park to earn open space).

There’s more to it than stated above, and I strongly suggest you and your consultants read the guide and then sit down to determine boundaries as a group to make sure all credit impacts are considered. In past projects I’ve worked on, stormwater mitigation and light pollution credits had the biggest influence on these boundaries, but parking, open space, and a variety of other credits could come into play as well.

I’m heading to Greenbuild 2010 today… Hope to see you there!

LEED-ND Study Examines Entire Metro Area

I’ve been looking at LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) in some detail lately, as evidenced by posts examining the system’s fees and also my first experience planning the certification process. While I’m starting to get a feel for the system, my efforts pale in comparison to the work of Brendon Slotterback over at NetDensity.net:

Twin Cities LEED-ND Eligibility
Areas Meeting LEED ND Minimum Eligibility Requirements in the Twin Cities

Brendon’s apparently excellent GIS mapping skills allowed him to progressively eliminate areas ineligible for LEED certification due to non-compliance with various Smart Location and Linkages category prerequisites, and the result is the chart above of eligible areas across the entire Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area. You can read all of the four part series by clicking the links below or through this summary page on his website.

Part 1: Includes a brief overview of LEED-ND and the HUD decision to begin scoring grant, and then creates a map excluding all areas in the region that do not meet wetland/floodplain avoidance, agricultural conservation, and endangered species habitat protection requirements (i.e. examines compliance with SLLp2-SLLp5).
Part 2: Focuses almost exclusively on the SLLp1, Smart Location and Linkages prerequisite and its myriad requirements.
Part 3: Examines areas that may technically be eligible for certification but have strong market barriers due to poor connectivity or low density in the surrounding areas.
Part 4: Brings it all together and looks forward to zoning and policy recommendations that would help foster greater adoption of these practices in the future.

Does LEED-ND Get It Right?

I found Brendon’s site via commentary from Kaid Benfield on his own blog over at the NRDC. He was particularly interested in the ability for small towns and rural areas to meet the SLL requirements, and judging by this post he feels that the system works.

These posts led to a lively discussion on a local planning list I subscribe to, where one respondent was upset that a local new urbanist community planned by DPZ, Habersham, would not qualify due to the fact that it’s not an infill project surrounded by dense development. It’s an excellent development internally, not far enough away from the existing town to in my opinion be considered contributing to sprawl, but it is located on a greenfield surrounded by river and marsh on one side and not much other than forests on the other. Our conversation happened to align with a visit from Steve Mouzon, author of The Original Green, who summed up the discussion well:

Currently, LEED-ND is based primarily (but not entirely) on the assumption that most meaningful interactions occur outside your neighborhood. So Pienza would fail. As would Key West. As would any number of New Urbanist places, including Habersham… LEED-ND doesn’t “trust” very much that the developer will, over time, be able to capture very much interaction… LEED-ND doesn’t have very good accounting of time at this time.

It’s clear to me that LEED-ND requires not only good development practices but is also fairly strict about where such development occurs. I see this as a positive but am very interested to hear your thoughts. Should Key West, a town that could literally be wiped off the map if sea level rise predictions come true, be a place that LEED-ND should foster? Should LEED-ND be more forgiving if what’s developed is significant enough to create its own town center, or should we only encourage growth of existing town centers? Please share your thoughts by leaving a comment!

Learn more at RealLifeLEED.com!