This credit addresses two basic issues: density of the surrounding neighborhood and occupant access to everyday services. It encourages use of existing infrastructure and tries to reduce environmental impacts of transportation. It’s easier for projects located in a densely built area or with a host of community services nearby.
This credit is not likely to drive the project location decision, but it does reward projects for locating in developed areas and for choosing infill instead of greenfield sites (you can’t earn the credit on a site that is not previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development."). In determining how easily your project can comply, site selection is one key factor, but so is the availability of property and building data.
There are two compliance options for this credit. Unless you are in a dense urban neighborhood where either option is possible, your choice will probably be determined by the specifics of your project.
Project teams should assess early in the planning stage which path is most suitable based on project location and the availability of density data. The owner, architect or civil engineer often take on the role of documenting this credit—either researching community services in the project’s vicinity, or documenting the density of the project and surrounding area.
Community Connectivity is generally easier to document than Option 1. Image Courtesy YRG SustainabilityThe size of the area that has to be included in the Option 1 calculation depends on the size of your project site.
Projects can earn an Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. point through IDc1 if they meet Option 1’s requirements and are themselves twice as dense as the surrounding area, or can show that the surrounding area has double the required Option 1 density over twice the area.
Eight of the ten services for Option 2 have to be existing and in operation at the time of the project opening. Two services can be anticipated within a year of opening. One service can be within the project itself.
LEED defines residential neighborhood or area as a minimum of 10 living units (i.e. an apartment unit or house) per acre. Apartment buildings, neighborhoods, or dormitories can all contribute to this.
It can be easier to earn this credit in a dense urban environment, but an average two story downtown can also comply. Photo – YRG SustainabilityIn LEEDuser's experience, if a residential development of 10 units/acre lies within a portion of the ½-mile radius, it likely will contribute to credit compliance. This is consistent with LEED Reference Guide guidance that states, "Mark all residential developments within the radius. For the project to earn this credit, a residential area with a minimum density of 10 units per acre must be present within the radius."
Use the center of the LEED project boundary.
Yes, LEED user’s experts have had success with documenting a single property that is at least 10 units/net acre density. Any discrete area that addresses the requirements is acceptable, and an existing residential area meeting the requirements may cross property lines between different properties. For projects with residential areas that are on the cusp (or perceived as being on the cusp) of meeting the required density, you may need to provide additional documentation or an explanation as to how the residential area meets at least 10 units/net acre. Finally, it is not sufficient for the area to be zoned to the correct density, if it is not built to it.
Probably not. Project teams need to be careful when trying to pass off services not explicitly given in the LEED credit language. In most cases services not listed will not be approved. Review the credit intent and think about whether the additional services—in the absence of other basic services—are pedestrian-oriented and encourage walkable neighborhoods. However, some projects have had success in specific cases, such as a hotel being considered as a basic service for an office space with frequent contractors visiting. A CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide is probably needed to get approval for special cases like this.
Also, to reduce confusion during a review while maintaining honesty, be careful to label your services to be consistent with the credit language list. For example, a "nail/hair salon/barber shop" should be categorized as a "beauty salon." If a gas station contains a full-service, stand-alone convenience grocery store (e.g. 7-Eleven) and credit is sought for grocery store use, label it as "convenience grocery" rather than a "gas station."
Maybe. Language in the Reference Guide is not crystal clear on this point, and some comments from project teams indicate that campus projects should demonstrate that services are open to the public. For LEED documentation purposes, LEEDuser recommends avoiding relying on such services, or seeing a CIR to be sure of your approach.
LEEDuser has seen reports of review comments questioning the inclusion of services on a military base or other installation that are not open to the general public, even if they are open to anyone within the radius. On the other hand, one project team reported success with a military base where access to the base was restricted to the public, and services on the base were open to anyone on the base.
The SSc2 Option 2 residential requirements for NCv2.2 and NC 2009 are for projects to locate in an area within one-half mile of an existing, not planned, residential district featuring a density of at least 10 units/acre. Projects should not depend upon planned residential areas for credit compliance, as this does not represent existing infrastructure in most cases. Projects not meeting these requirements but believing they meet the credit intent will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must submit a project-specific CIR to determine their compliance potential.
All projects use the building site area for the density radius calculation.
Many projects have had questions about the definition of previously developed. Note that LEED 2009 projects have had the relevant definition updated by USGBC through a November 2011 addendum. Be sure to reference that definition, which is more specific, if it is applicable to your project.
Is your site “previously developed”? This credit is available only for projects on previously developed sites—those that have been graded or modified by human activity.
Determine early on which of the two compliance paths is most feasible for your project. This will be determined by your project location. For projects that have the choice, Option 2 may be easier to document, although both options require developing a site plan and documenting the existing conditions of the surrounding area.
It can be easier to earn this credit in a dense urban environment, but an average two-story downtown can also comply. Photo – YRG SustainabilityTypically, the requisite neighborhood density for Option 1 of 60,000 ft2 per acre can be met by two-story downtown development, or a denser area. The requirements for Option 2 can typically be met in a variety of settings, from dense urban areas to rural small towns with some density of services.
You can earn an Exemplary Performance point through this credit, but only through Option 1: Development Density. If you have some choice of which option to pursue, and the extra point is important, go for Option 1.
Weigh the pros and cons of locating a project in a dense urban area, as there may be trade-offs involved. For example, air quality and open space are two variables that could be compromised by locating a project in a dense urban area. However, LEED is generally oriented toward rewarding projects that locate in urban areas, particularly through SSc4.1 and other SS credits.
Careful site selection is crucial for obtaining this credit. Projects located in dense urban areas will qualify more easily, whereas projects located in rural or suburban areas, where densities are lower and development more spread out, may find this credit unattainable.
Calculate the average neighborhood “built” density, with a target of 60,000 ft2 per acre, minimum, including your project building as well as surrounding buildings. Undeveloped public areas—including parks, water bodies, and public roadways—are not included in density calculations.
All occupied buildings must be counted in the development density calculations. This would generally include conditioned spaces intended for occupancy, with an FTE above zero. Typical excluded spaces might be:
This approach is much easier to document if density information is accessible via a database of the built densities of all buildings in a neighborhood. Without such a resource, it can be hard to locate this information, and Option 2 may be preferable from a documentation standpoint. Obtaining this data can be a challenge if municipalities don’t provide a centralized database of building and property information for existing building stock—including lot area, building area, and number of residential units. Check with your local planning department or the regional, county, or state planning office GIS database.
Locating your project next to a water body or park shouldn’t affect your density calculations, as undeveloped public areas, including parks and water bodies, are not factored into density calculations.
Many urban sites are previously developed and may be brownfields. Investigate and address any contamination and remediation issues early in the planning process. Doing so can contribute to earning SSc3.
There may be a fee associated with obtaining data from a public agency’s GIS database.
Demonstrate that there is both:
If a service is considered basic but not included in the list, attach a narrative explaining why you think this is acceptable or consult with GBCI.
The one-half mile radius is drawn from the main building entrance.
Documenting this option is easier than documenting Option 1, as there is little data collection involved, and usually no calculations to perform (unless there is no other documentation available and you have to calculate the housing density to make sure it is at least 10 units per acre).
There may be costs associated with developing a site in an urban setting (due to aspects such as site constraints and brownfield remediation), although there can also be savings due to reduced need to install infrastructure.
Building within an existing urban fabric adds significant benefits for users, including lower transportation costs and healthier lifestyle. Employers may find that this helps attract and retain personnel.
To check your project’s eligibility to pursue this option, draw a circle with a one-half-mile radius centered on your project’s main entrance. If there is a qualifying residential development, and at least ten basic services, within the circle, your project is eligible to pursue this path.
There must be pedestrian access to the basic services. Pedestrians cannot be blocked by walls, highways or other permanent barriers.
To find the density of residential buildings near your project, check with sources like planning departments, or property management companies on a building by building basis.
At least eight of the ten required services must be operational at the time of project completion. For services that are nonexistent but proposed (up to two of the ten required services), the project team must demonstrate that they will be up and running within one year of occupancy. This can be documented by signed lease agreements or a letter from the developer or owner stating the scheduled opening of the service
Access to services can attract more building occupants and improve occupant satisfaction with any project type—resulting in better financials and productivity.
For mixed-use projects, one service located within the project boundary may be counted towards the credit calculation, and that service must be accessible to the general public. For example, if your project is an office complex with a coffee shop and dry cleaners—and they are accessible to the general public—one of these two can count as one of the ten required basic services.
Complete density or community connectivity calculations relevant to Options 1 or 2 below.
These tasks could be completed in schematic design, design development or at 100% CDs. What is critical is to have the project square footage and site area set prior to performing final calculations.
Your project area must be defined consistently throughout all LEED credits (per the project description). Make sure this is the case, especially if your project is part of a larger development, such as a campus.
Check that your project can comply, using these three steps:
The calculator within LEED Online computes the density radius as well as the average density by summing up the building square footages and the site areas in acres.
Confirm that the average density of your project is at least 60,000 ft2 per acre.
Per CIR 9/22/06, you can document Exemplary Performance as part of IDc1 through Option 1: Development Density using one of the following methods:
Use online mapping resources such as Google Earth to draw a one-half mile radius from the project building entrance. Your project must be within one-half mile of a residential development with a density of at least ten units per acre, net, as well as within one-half mile of ten basic services.
For projects with more than one main entrance or more than one building, you may draw a circle from more than one entrance. The area contained within the circles drawn from all these radii is then used as your project’s radius.
Identify at least one residential development that meets the requirement within the defined boundary. (This could be one apartment building containing ten units.)
If you determine that your project is eligible for this credit option, develop a list of all the services within that half-mile radius (or several half-mile radii), and their distance from the project site.
All the services must be accessible by foot via an uninterrupted, safe path stretching from the designated entrance to the service location. The path cannot cross a highway, for example, unless there is a pedestrian pathway.
For onsite services or those within a half-mile, you can count up to two restaurants in the list of ten community services, but no other service can be counted twice. For example, if there are three restaurants, two hair salons, and four dry cleaners within your radius, you can count two restaurants, one salon and one dry cleaner.
If any of the ten services are nonexistent but planned, you must obtain written documentation that these services will be operational by the time the occupants move into your building. Appropriate documentation includes a lease agreement or a letter from the owner or other responsible party. Only two unbuilt but planned services can be counted in your credit documentation.
Websites like Walkscore and Google Maps can provide locations of services and walking access from a given address. (See Resources.) Note, however, that resources like these contain limitations that may not match up with LEED requirements (Walkscore, for example, assumes that you can walk across water, if that's the most direct route.) Use them as a starting point to identify services and approximate distances, but be sure to make adjustments as needed.
Check that no changes are made to the design that might hurt your chances of earning the credit.
If your project site is located in a dense urban area where pollution is a concern, design your building to minimize potential air quality problems. Place outdoor air intakes away from sources of pollution as much as possible. Consider acoustics and other issues that might be associated with urban environments.
Complete the LEED Online credit form and prepare the following documents to show credit compliance, according to your chosen option. The LEED Reference Guide also offers good process guidance and sample documentation for this credit.
For both options, a licensed professional (PE, RA, or RLA) can sign off on the credit in lieu of entering all the calculations. The professional whose license is on the line will likely want to confirm all the calculations anyway, and the credit form offers a good way to do that.
Provide a site-vicinity map, to scale, showing the project site and the one-half mile boundary from the project’s main entrance. Highlight the residential development and ten services within the boundary.
Compile a list of all buildings that are within or are intersected by your density boundary, with square footages and site areas for each property. Highlight the results of your calculations and confirm that your project meets the credit requirement.
Demonstrate through an online tool, picture, or site plan that ten services are accessible by foot from the project site.
Compile a list of services for easy review, and confirm that the credit requirement is met.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Core and Shell Development
To channel development to urban areas with existing infrastructure, protect greenfields and preserve habitat and natural resources.
Construct or renovate a building on a previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development." site AND in a community with a minimum density of 60,000 square feet per acre net (13,800 square meters per hectare net). The density calculation is based on a typical two-story downtown development and must include the area of the project being built.
Construct or renovate a building on a site that meets the following criteria:
For mixed-use projects, no more than 1 service within the project boundary may be counted as 1 of the 10 basic services, provided it is open to the public. No more than 2 of the 10 services required may be anticipated (i.e. at least 8 must be existing and operational). In addition, the anticipated services must demonstrate that they will be operational in the locations indicated within 1 year of occupation of the applicant project. Examples of basic services include the following:
Proximity is determined by drawing a 1/2-mile radius around a main building entrance on a site map and counting the services within that radius.
During the site selection process, give preference to urban sites with pedestrian access to a variety of services.
For locating community services on a map in relation to project site.
For building information in the City of New York; useful for calculating density and identifying residential developments.
Great resource for creating site maps and measuring distances.
This online tools provides “as-the-crow-flies” distance to typical standard services from a given address, so it is most helpful to identify the location of basic services that are in close proximity, but shouldn’t be used to document walking distances.
Compile a list of qualifying community services and residential neighborhoods, and their proximity to your project using a template like this one (with example shown).
Use a narrative like the one illustrated in this example to demonstrate compliance with this option. This sample narrative provides sample language for planned community services, in addition to existing ones.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each CS-2009 SS credit. You'll need to fill out the live versions of these forms on LEED Online for each credit you hope to earn.
Version 4 forms (newest):
Version 3 forms:
These links are posted by LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. USGBC has certain usage restrictions on these forms; for more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
Calculations like these are needed to demonstrate the required development density for your site.
Use a narrative like this to discuss use of services that are planned but not built to meet Option 2. As many as two of 10 services may be planned.
Use this spreadsheet to check your compiance with this credit, including Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. compliance, and generate a map for documenting compliance in LEED Online.
My project is in an urban setting and I have established my LEED Project Boundry to include improvements in the public right-of-way for the purposes of WEc1. When completing the documentation for SSc2, I plan to use the area of the actual property owned by the Developer to establish the project density. It seems like the differing values could create a conflict somewhere in the documentation, but each value seems accurate for it's specific use.
Can I use the differing site area values or do i need to settle on a single value?
I would advise you to pick a boundary and use it consistently. You could try to argue your case with a narrative, but my experience has been that you will need a good reason (beyond maximizing your potential points) for any variation of your boundary.
Our project is pursuing a LEED-CS v3 gold certification. Righ in front of the project there is a mall that concentrates more than 10 basic services and it's right across the street. Next to the mall there is a high rise residential building.
Will having these two be sufficient to comply with the credit requirements under the path 2 communnity connectivity??
I just wanted to make sure LEED allows for having the 10 services concentrated in one place.
There is not a limit on the number of services that you can count within a mall, but be careful here - most retail will not count. The list of qualifying services in the LEED manual is pretty set in stone. In my experience, if it isn't on that list, the reviewers are not going to let you count it.
Thank you Ellen.
Should the total built up area consider the basemet area as well ?
I do not have experience with this, but I would think that the basement would count in your square footage numbers. Does anyone else know for sure?
The basement is used for carparking and hence do we have to include spaces like MLCP, carparking, cooling tower, STP in the totalbuilt uparea calculation? or is it the builtup area of net occupiable spaces?
If i include the basement/car park area i will easily meet the credit requriement 60,000 Sq.ft/Acre.. Please suggest
I don't see anything in the reference manual or the Interpretations database that articulates what qualifies as the building - all it says is to determine the total area of the project and the total square footage of the building. Since your basement area is part of the building, I think you can justify including it. Again, I am not sure one way or another - if you submit it, post back and let us know if it works.
Thanks Ellen, I will keep you posted.
In my experience, I can say we should exclude the basement in total buildup area calculation for development density calculation. The basement floor is not being considered for certification fee calculation.
I am working in the LEED certification of a Shopping Centre (Core & Shell) where the following stores will be installed: Bank, Beauty Salon, Laundry, Library, Pharmacy, Post-Office, Restaurant, Supermarket, Fitness Center.
Are this “in-site” basic services eligible for SSc2 Option 2 (Community Connectivity) ?
According to the LEED BD&C Reference Guide, you can't count services within your own LEED project toward this credit at all. Mixed-use projects are the exception, and are granted the ability to count one service.
Thank you Tristan.
I don't know how I missed that detail in the reference guide.
By the way, regarding "option 2 - residential development" do you think that if I can find at least an area with an acre with 10 units this requirement is fulfilled?
Pedro, the residential requirement is in addition to the other requirements ("AND"), not an option alongside them ('OR").
I apologize for not being clear enough. Please have in consideration that English is not my native language.
I am aware of all the credit requirements. I was asking specifically about the "residential requirement" of SSc2. What I wanted to know was whether, ultimately, just by identifying 10 residences within a radius of 1 acre, that part of the SSc2 credit (the "residential requirement") was fulfilled.
Pedro, it may be a language issue again, but one acre is a measure of area, not a measure of distance, so it wouldn't be accurate to say that the requirement is met by finding 10 residences within a radius of an acre.
I understand that. But my interpretation is that «a residential area with a minimum density of 10 units per acre» may be different from «an area of an acre with 10 units». The first sentence, taken from credit language, refers to an average, the second to an absolute value.
Credit language states the first. I'm asking if the requirement is met just by fulfilling the second sentence.
I think I understand your question, but let me try to rephrase and determine if I am on track.....you are asking whether the average density of a particular acre must be at least 10 units (meaning that part of the acre is higher and part is lower as long as the average is 10 or greater) OR if you comply with the credit as long as there is a residential area that has the required density within all or part of an acre. Did I get that right? If so, I believe that either one will work. I have successfully submitted this credit by only identifying one multi-family apartment building that clearly meets the 10 units/acre density requirement and not worrying about anything else that is within the acre encompassing that building. If I am misinterpreting, maybe you could explain your specific situation and I will try again.....
Hi Ellen, you've fully answered my question. I have a project located in a semi-rural area that has scattered around some sets of single-family houses (approx. 10 to 12 houses each set) each of which contained within an acre. Taking into account your explanation I think this will apply for compliance.
Thank you Ellen and thank you Tristan.
The sample calculations in the Tool Kit example all have a building on the property. My real life example has some areas with surface parking and no building. I have assumed I include those properties in the calculation with a Development Density of 0 SF / AC. Is that correct, or do I only include the properties with buidlings on them?
James, I am not sure I understand the question, but I think the answer is that a site with no buildings would be 0 SF per whatever the relevant area is.
Our project meets the service part of Option 2, but the 10 units per acre is not so easy in this rural development. Our County rarely approves 10 unit per acre density's. However, directly adjacent to our project site there is an "affordable housing" subdivision that is zones R6 (6 units per acre). Does the affordable housing component or the limits provided by the zoning set by the County somehow allow us a variance on this LEED credit.
Also, is this an all or nothing credit - 5 points? or could we get partial credit by having the 10 services part and not the housing component?
Jeffrey, I would say that the project simply doesn't meet the credit requirements, and you should move on. Partial credit is not awarded by GBCI.
I am working on a project (LEED CS 2.0) that easily meets the services requirement, but I'm having a hard time with the residential density requirement. Looking at my aerial photo shows a neighborhood that is mostly single family homes. There are no apartment complexes that meet the 10 units/acre standard, however, there is a project that is in development and will be 50 units covering only a few acres. Can we use the future development option for residential density?
Hi Mark. A future residential development can count provided that you offer clear documentation that the development doesn't encroach on undeveloped/greenfield areas. More specifically, you'll need to document that the development is on or within previously existing urban infrastructure (i.e. roads, sewers, etc). You'll also need to quantify the proposed future density (as you've helpful done here).
In using Option 2 - Community Connectivity, must the residential area have unimpeded pedestrian access to the project, as well as the project having unimpeded pedestrian access to the 10 basic services?
The credit clearly states that there must be pedestrian access to the services, but no mention of the resi area. I would err on the side that access should be unimpeded. If there are multiple routes to a basic service all within the 1/2 mile radius you should be okay in meeting the credit intent, even if one path is impeded.
Thank you, Larry.
I am working on LEED documentation for a project that meets all the requirements in Option 2 for community connectivity. The site has never had a building on it, however it has been graded, there are utilities running through it and it is in the center of a master-planned university campus with surrounding buildings. Will this qualify as a previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development." site, and is there separate documentation required to prove this?
Yes, it's previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development.". The C&S Glossary defines "Previously Developed" as sites that "once had buildings, roadways, parking lots, or were graded or otherwise altered by direct human activities." In the past, I've provided an aerial image of the existing site, or a Phase II environmental assessment, to show that the site is previously graded.
Step-by-step instructions for graphically documenting compliance with Options 1 or 2.
Sustainable Design Coordinator
Previously developed urban areas can have an easier time with the SSc1 requirements, while reducing the disruption of undeveloped land.
Projects in dense urban areas are more likely to have access to mass transit.
Projects earning SSc2 may include a green roof as part of the SSc5.1 calculations.
Projects earning SSc2 may include a green roof and pedestrian-oriented hardscape as part of the SSc5.2 calculation.
Do you know which LEED credits have the most LEED Interpretations and addenda, and which have none? The Missing Manual does. Check here first to see where you need to update yourself, and share the link with your team.
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