Monday, February 9, 2009

Sustainable Sites Credit 3

Brownfield Redevelopment

Fortunately our site does not qualify for credit under this provision of LEED NC 2.2 (The LEED rating system for New Construction & Major Renovation is often abbreviated as LEED NC and '2.2' is the current edition that all new projects will fall under until the new edition is released in late 2009). It is however a good incentive to develop Brownfield sites.

There is an ASTM standard for documenting the contamination of Brownfield sites, ASTM E1903-97 Phase II Environmental Site Assessment. If the site in question has already been designated as a brownfield site by local, state or federal government agencies then an ASTM documentation of the site will not be necessary.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sustainable Sites Credit 2

Development Density
& Community Connectivity

Development Density & Community Connectivity allows you to earn points for density by locating your project in an area of two story buildings or with a quota of community services like banks and restaurants nearby.

To earn the first point your project site can meet either the density option or the connectivity option, but to be eligible for an additional point for exemplary performance under the innovation category, your site must first meet the density option.

Option 1 - Development Density

With an average density of 4450 SF of buildings per acre of properties within a 553 foot radius, our site does not meet the density threshold of 60,000 SF/acre.

The radius of the area to study is determined from area of the selected project site. The average density is calculated by summing the areas of buildings (in square feet) and dividing by the land area (in acres).

Community Connectivity

Option 2 - Community Connectivity
To earn one point under Sustainable Sites Credit 2 - Option 2 - Community Connectivity, the project site must contain residential zone properties and 10 community resources with a half-mile radius. The residential properties must be zoned for residential development of 10 units per acre or greater.  Community services must be accessible to pedestrians and not blocked by rail lines or highways.

Although the wording varies on whether the residential areas in the 1/2 mile radius should merely be zoned to allow 10 or more residential units per acre or if there must be housing built at that density, this project location clearly meets the requirements for Option 2 - Community Connectivity with 18 of 10 the required community services listed. There are 22 types community services listed by the USGBC and only 10 are required to meet the minimum. There are many more services near the project site than the 18 appear on the diagram above.

The Community Services are:
  1. Banks
  2. Places of Worship
  3. Convenience Grocers
  4. Day Care
  5. Cleaners
  6. Fire Stations
  7. Beauty
  8. Hardware
  9. Laundry
  10. Library
  11. Medical/Dental
  12. Senior Care Facility
  13. Park
  14. Pharmacy
  15. Post Office
  16. Restaurant (maximum 2 may be counted)
  17. School
  18. Supermarket
  19. Commercial Office
  20. Community Center
  21. Fitness Center
  22. Museum

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Sustainable Sites Credit 1

Site Selection
Among other criteria, to earn a point under Credit 1: Site Selection, the site must be previously developed or at least 5 feet above the 100-year flood line as documented by FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The FIRM, Flood Insurance Rate Map, above shows the 100-year flood elevations around the project site. This map is hosted on FEMA's website. GIS, Geographic Information Systems format files, are available on FEMA's website and are called DFIRMs, Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
The USGS, United States Geologic Survey, map above was used to determine elevations of contour lines near the site before we were able to view the GIS files with labeled contour lines.

The GIS map at the top of this post was generated from GIS files posted on tnris at 
and has the contour lines labeled in a clear manor that is easier to read the USGS maps.Do not develop buildings, hardscape, roads or parking areas on portions of sites that meet any one of the following criteria:

(No area on this property falls into to any of the categories listed below.)

A) - Prime farmland as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture in the United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 7, Volume 6, Parts 400 to 699, Section 657.5 (citation 7CFR657.5)

B) - Previously undeveloped land whose elevation is lower than 5 feet above the elevation of the 100-year flood as defined by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)

(this land was previously developed, however it is not clear whether the property is more than 5' above the elevation of the 100-year flood. The FIRM above designates the site as being in Zone X. Zone X is described as being in the 500-year flood zone and Areas of 500-year flood; areas of 100-year flood with average depths of less than 1 foot or with drainage areas less than 1 square mile and areas protected by levees from 100-year flood.)

The FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) FIRM (Flood Insurance Rate Map) above shows the closest near-by 100-year flood elevation at 409' in marked Zone AE. There is also a 100-year flood that is listed as 'contained in channel' marked as Zone A to the south-east. Further away to the south-west there is a 100-year flood elevation of 416' in a Zone AE.

The 7.5 Minute USGS (United States Geological Survey) map above shows the contour lines and spot elevations near our site. This information is missing from the FEMA FIRM at the top of this post. Although the FEMA FIRM shows the 100 year flood, it does not show the contours and elevations that would allow us to determine the elevation of our property in relationship to the 100-year flood line. That's reason for the two maps.

C) - Land that is specifically identified as habitat for any species on Federal or State threatened or endangered lists

(need to find listing for endangered species)

D) -Within 100 feet of any wetlands as defined by the United States Code of Federal Regulations 40 CFR, Parts 230-233 and Part 22, and isolated wetlands or areas of special concern identified by the state or local rule, OR within setback distances from wetlands setback distances from wetlands prescribed in state or local regulations, as defined by local or state rule or law, whichever is more stringent

(The nearest water is more than 2100' away)

E) - Previously undeveloped land that is within 50 feet of water body, defined as seas, lakes, rivers, rivers, streams and tributaries which support or could support fish, recreation or industrial use, consistent with the terminology of the Clean Water Act

(This property was previously developed and demolished in the 1980s)

F) -Land which prior to acquisition for the project was public parkland, unless land of equal or greater value as parkland is accepted in trade by the public landowner (Park Authority projects are exempt)

(when purchased from Anne Marie Bristow, this was not parkland)

Sustainable Sites Prerequisite 1

Construction Activity Pollution Prevention

Building a sustainable building begins with the land selected for the project. As you will see with other LEED categories there are prerequisites that must be met or no LEED certification will be possible.

The Sustainable Sites Prerequiste for LEED New Construction 2.2 is Construction Activity Pollution Prevention. This focuses on preventing preventing topsoil on the construction site from polluting the air or local rivers, streams and watersheds. Fabric fences made of geotech material and seeding the soil are two common strategies for the prevention of dust and sedimentation from topsoil. Topsoil can also be collected and stored for re-use.

Meeting the prerequisite is non-negotiable and no points are awarded.

14 points are available for Sustainable Sites, under LEED NC 2.2.

Each item below, if met, is awarded one point, except the prerequisite.

SS Prereq 1  Construction Activity Pollution Prevention
SS Credit 1 Site Selection
SS Credit 2 Development Density & Community Connectivity
SS Credit 3 Brownfield Redevelopment
SS Credit 4.1 Alternative Transportation, Public Transportation Access
SS Credit 4.2 Alternative Transportation, Bicycle Storage & Changing Rooms
SS Credit 4.3 Alternative Transportation, Low Emitting & Fuel Efficient Vehicles
SS Credit 4.4 Alternative Transportation, Parking Capacity
SS Credit 5.1 Site Development, Protect or Restore Habitat
SS Credit 5.2 Site Development, Maximize Open Space
SS Credit 6.1 Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
SS Credit 6.2 Stormwater Design, Quality Control
SS Credit 7.1 Heat Island Effect, Non-Roof
SS Credit 7.2 Heat Island Effect, Roof
SS Credit 8 Light Pollution

LEED and the USGBC

First, a little about LEED and the USGBC. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. There's more than one green building rating organization, but the US Green Building Council (USGBC) is the most recognized. Forward-thinking cities across the country are requiring new buildings to Meet LEED standards for building performance. Dallas is one such city requiring LEED performance from new buildings.

Check out the USGBC North Texas Chapter at  to learn more about LEED projects in the Dallas area.

Here is a partial list of Dallas LEED 'registered' buildings. I think this means projects under construction or not yet certified.

Dallas, TX
Azure Tower
City of Dallas Fire Station 40
City of Dallas Northwest Service Center
Dallas Public Library - Lockwood Branch
Dallas Public Library - West Love Field Branch
Dallas South Central Police Station
Hampton/Illinois Branch Library
McCommas ECO Training Center
The da Vinci School Relocation
The Senior Source
Timberglen Branch Library
Walnut Hill Branch Library

The following statements appear on the USGBC website: 

"The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System is a voluntary, consensus-based national rating system for developing high-performance, sustainable buildings. LEED addresses all building types and emphasizes state-of-the-art strategies in five areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources selection, and indoor environmental quality."

"The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit membership organization with a vision of a sustainable built environment within a generation. Its membership includes corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and other nonprofit organizations. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™."

There are a few common misconceptions about USGBC.

People often think that the USGBC is part of the US federal government. It's not, the USGBC is a privately run non-profit that is a positive, independent and objective rating organization for sustainable and high performance buildings. I know I thought the USGBC was a government organization. I guess having US in their name makes them sound official and like part of the government. 

The second common mistake that people unfamiliar with LEED and the USGBC often make is to say that people are LEED certified, they're not certified. Buildings are certified and people are accredited. Just remember that if someone is 'certifiable' that would mean that they're insane and you probably don't want to be working with them. 

The third misconception and perhaps the most important distinction I'll make here, is that having a USBC logo on a product does not mean that product meets any performance standards at all, if a USGBC logo appears on a product it simply means that the manufacturer is a sponsor of the USBC. If you are trying to select a material you should consult an independent third party product rating organization like 

The last mistake people often make is to add an 'S' after LEED and say 'LEEDS', but Leads is a place in the United Kingdom and LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

There are four ratings that buildings can achieve. In order of increasing performance, the ratings are, LEED Standard, LEED Silver, LEED Gold and LEED Platinum. The more points, the higher the building rating. Like any truly 'green' building, the sustainable buildings that are LEED certified are not sustainable simply because they use a wind turbine or solar panels, they are sustainable because they employ a variety of strategies, starting with the selection of the building site. Please see our next post about sustainable sites to read more about this sustainable development in Fair Park.