If your site already has large areas of existing, natural, open space or a landscape with native and adapted plantings, this credit is easy to earn. Check that you have native or adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive. covering at least of 25% of the total site area (excluding the building footprintBuilding 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.) or 5% of the total site area (including the building footprint—whichever is greater.
If you have the open space to do this, but it’s currently covered by turf, hardscapeHardscape consists of the inanimate elements of the building landscaping. Examples include pavement, roadways, stone walls, concrete paths and sidewalks, and concrete, brick, and tile patios., or other non-native habitat, consider how much restoration would be needed to meet the threshold. In fact, all project teams should consider the multiple benefits of incrementally upgrading their project’s landscaping with more native plantings, even if it has to be incrementally implemented to be cost effective. Re-landscaping large portions of the site will require costs to cover design, labor installation, and the costs of the plants. However, many sites contain annual beds or other areas that can gradually be transitioned to native perennial plantings.
Through off-site restoration and maintenance, this credit can be achieved by any project regardless of site limitations. Two square feet off-site count as one square foot onsite.
The LEED Reference Guide does not clearly define the scope or type of efforts that should be included in the improvement and maintenance of off-site habitat. It confirms that support can be in the form of financial or service commitments, but what scope should be included in a contract with an off-site landowner has been left open to interpretation. There is no reference standard to set the bar for effective off-site conservation and restoration efforts.
Whether you’re doing onsite or off-site restoration, though, it’s likely to have the following elements:
There is currently no requirement for where the off-site area must be located.
To demonstrate that your off-site restoration project meets the credit intent, develop a contract with the property owner that clearly communicates the level and nature of improvement support you will provide. In this case, number of work hours is a fairly common type of commitment to include in the contract. Additionally, provide documentation of the type of restoration/maintenance services that will take place. Visit the Checklists tab for additional information on how to provide meaningful, ongoing benefit to an off-site area, and for specific restoration/maintenance activities that support the credit intent.
No, the contract can be executed during or after the performance period if necessary. Remember, however, that some restoration/maintenance activities must be performed during the performance period. This can either occur through a service commitment or through restoration/maintenance activities performed by an outside party that are then offset through a financial contribution (either in advance or retroactively).
You are not required to have a “completed” restoration project in place before the performance period begins, however some restoration activities must be performed during the performance period under this scenario.
There is no requirement that speaks to this directly. The commitment should be long enough to deliver meaningful benefit to the off-site property and must cover the minimally applicable performance period for the LEED project. Many project teams choose to do either a one- or two-year contract. Consult with the property owner and consider your restoration goals when determining the appropriate length of time for your contract.
There is no requirement for how much money you must spend. Work with the owner of the off-site property to develop a cost based on what it actually takes to support/restore/maintain that site. Given that site needs and goals are different, costs will vary from site to site.
Only the portion of the parcel needed to meet the credit requirements must be allocated to the LEED project. Once this area has been allocated it may not be used for any other LEED project. To support credit achievement in this scenario, provide appropriate documentation to demonstrate that no double counting will occur.
It is unlikely that potted plants provide habitat value and promote biodiversity sufficient to meet the credit intent.
Run calculations to determine the total area needed to meet the credit requirements. To calculate this, first determine 25% of the total site area minus the building footprint. Then determine 5% of the total site area including the building footprint. The total area of native/adapted vegetation must cover whichever is the greater value of these two calculations. Be sure to run calculations for both to confirm which is the bigger number.
Assess onsite approaches to meeting credit requirements.
Every two square feet of off-site area protected or restored off-site is equivalent to one square foot of protected or restored onsite habitat. There are no constraints on the geographical proximity of the LEED project location and the off-site habitat area. Improvement and maintenance of off-site areas must be documented through a contract with the property owner.
You can also combine onsite and off-site options. For example, if a project must have 1,000 ft2 of onsite habitat protected, it can comply by protecting/restoring 500 ft2 onsite plus 1,000 ft2 offsite or 200 ft2 onsite plus 1,600 ft2 offsite.
Costs depend on the size and existing conditions of the site. Onsite restoration projects will incur initial costs associated with the purchase and installations of native plantings, but benefits such as reduced irrigation, landscape waste, and maintenance will likely reduce operating costs over time. Although off-site projects likely will require some financial support for improvement and maintenance work, this option can still be very cost-effective for many projects. The specific cost of restoring and maintaining off-site habitat is determined through negotiations with the property owners.
Choose the locations of existing and planned habitat and establish associated restoration goals.
Be sure to clearly identify your LEED project boundary and ensure that it remains consistent across all LEED credits, including throughout your SSc5 calculations.
If there is adjacent open space that contribute to this credit but falls outside the boundary and overall project scope, consider using the off-site option rather than expanding the LEED project boundary.
Take care to balance restoration goals with site uses, and plan to create non-vegetated buffer zones where habitat proximity to the building or surrounding infrastructure might create pest management or safety issues.
Areas of vegetated roof surfaces can contribute to the achievement of this credit if they are planted with habitat-providing native and adapted plants. In zero-lot-line conditions, this credit can be earned by using green-roof surfaces equal in size to at least 5% of the total site area (based on the credit requirements).
Research appropriate native and adapted plants, landscaping conditions, and watering requirements for your climate and region. Be aware of any differences in maintenance and water requirements between new and well-established plantings.
Consider restoring habitat around and adjacent to the most ecologically sensitive areas on your site, such as adjacent wildlife habitat or bodies of water.
Landscape architects, local restoration ecologists, horticultural extension agencies, and native plant societies can help identify appropriate species and conditions for the local habitat.
Don’t assume that just because a piece of land is undeveloped and thriving with plants, that it is populated with native and adapted vegetation.
This credit requires more than just native species; areas of vegetation must be biologically diverse and capable of providing habitat. Monoculture plantings, such as single-species turf grass or sedum on a green roof, cannot contribute to the credit requirements, even if they meet the definition of native or adapted. Consider substituting areas of manicured lawn with short-stature prairie grass and incorporating a diverse selection of native groundcover into vegetated roofing systems.
Natural site areas, including water bodies, exposed rock, or bare ground, can also contribute to the achievement of this credit. These features can only contribute if they are part of the region’s historical natural landscape and provide habitat value.
Some existing areas within your site may lend themselves to quick and easy restoration efforts. For example, it may be simple to convert annual beds to native, perennial forbs (i.e., herbaceous, flowering plants—rather than grasses, sedges, or rushes). Planting a native understory beneath existing trees, where turf grass can be hard to maintain, can be done with minimal site disturbance.
Restoring larger areas may be necessary for credit achievement and will take more planning and investment. Consider replacing large areas of paving or turf grass with native xeriscaping or uncovering waterways and water bodies that are currently diverted into underground pipes or storage tanks.
Strategies for preserving and restoring habitat can be integrated into the site’s stormwater design and may contribute to SSc6: Stormwater Quantity Control. Focus on restoring areas of drainage where native and adapted plants can aid in stormwater treatment.
If you pursue the off-site option, negotiate a contract stipulating support through financial or service commitments. A contract with the owner of any contributing off-site area must cover activities happening during a compliant PP, but can be retroactively put into place.
For many projects, choosing the off-site option affords an opportunity to support a more ecologically significant habitat. Supporting a portion of a large, contiguous, natural area is important for the conservation of complex ecosystems and may provide more value in some ways than creating an island of native plants in a dense urban environment. Consult with local ecologists for advice on the most valuable approach.
Protecting or restoring areas within a wildlife corridor can be particularly meaningful. Wildlife corridors are areas of habitat connecting wildlife populations that would otherwise be separated from development. Contact local conservancies or land trusts for help identifying candidate areas of existing habitat that might benefit from your support.
The LEED Reference Guide does not clearly stipulate the level of support of off-site habitat necessary to earn the credit, but agreements should provide a meaningful, ongoing benefit to the property and natural habitat over time. For example, a once-a-year trash pick-up event would not be considered adequate to meet the intent of this credit.
The LEED Reference Guide does note some specific appropriate restoration and maintenance activities that support the credit intent, such as:
If you are using on-site area to meet the credit requirements, you must provide a list of the native/adapted plant species that are present onsite.
If you are using off-site area to meet the credit requirements, and have a contract in place to provide labor to maintain/restore the site, some labor activities must be performed during the performance period.
If your organization already protects/maintains/restores habitat space at an off-site location, you do not need to allocate additional funds to this area for LEED purposes.
Any given off-site area can be used to certify only one LEED project. Do not double count or attribute the same area to multiple LEED projects. Off-site parcels can be divided so that multiple LEED projects can benefit, however appropriate documentation showing that no double counting will occur should be provided.
Peform restoration activities and initiate an ongoing maintenance plan.
Building maintenance and facilities staff may need to be educated on selecting, planting, and caring for native species. Project teams may also seek the expertise of local nurseries, landscape architects and landscaping contractors.
Using the LEED Online credit form, document which natural areas are being maintained, showing site plans and sketches for all areas contributing to credit compliance. Note the size of each area, the type of plant species it supports, and other ecological features.
For projects pursuing the off-site option, be clear about how your goals and objectives demonstrate that the contracted plan for off-site improvement and maintenance is aligned with the intent of this credit. Include the specific scope of support in the contract, clearly defining responsibilities and the terms of the agreement. Summarize a plan for continued monitoring of the health of the ecosystem.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance
To conserve existing natural areas and restore damaged areas to provide habitat and promote biodiversity.
During the performance period, have in place native1 or adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive.2 covering a minimum of 25% of the total site area (excluding the building footprintBuilding 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.) 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.
Perform a site survey to identify site elements and adopt a master plan for management of the building site. Activities may include removing excessive paved areas and replacing them with landscaped areas or replacing excessive turf grass area with natural landscape features. Work with local horticultural extension services or native plant societies to select and maintain indigenous plant species for site restoration and landscaping. Coordinate with activities, technologies and strategies under SS Credit 3: Integrated Pest ManagementIntegrated pest management (IPM) is the coordinated use of knowledge about pests, the environment, and pest prevention and control methods to minimize pest infestation and damage by the most economical means while minimizing hazards to people, property, and the environment., Erosion Control.
Advice on how to cultivate understory of native species around an existing canopy of trees.
This database is a collection of nurseries, community services and professionals.
Chapter 5: advice on developing a meaningful and effective restoration plan.
This quarterly print and online publication from the University of Wisconsin–Madison Arboretum provides a forum for people interested in all aspects of ecological restorationEcological restoration is the process of assisting in the recovery and management of ecological integrity and includes biodiversity, ecological processes and structures, regional and historical context, and sustainable cultural practices..
The book explores methods of landscape design that function like natural ecosystems.
This comprehensive guide to natural landscaping and ecological restorationEcological restoration is the process of assisting in the recovery and management of ecological integrity and includes biodiversity, ecological processes and structures, regional and historical context, and sustainable cultural practices. provides information on 21 ecological systems.
The center, located in Austin, Texas, has the mission of educating people about the environmental necessity, economic value, and natural beauty of native plants. The website offers a number of resources, including a nationwide native plant information network and a national suppliers directory.
NANPS is a nonprofit association dedicated to the study, conservation, cultivation, and restoration of native plants. Its website contains links to state and local associations.
The mission of this nonprofit consortium of scientists, planners, administrators, ecological consultants, landscape architects, engineers, and others is to promote ecological restorationEcological restoration is the process of assisting in the recovery and management of ecological integrity and includes biodiversity, ecological processes and structures, regional and historical context, and sustainable cultural practices. as a means of sustaining the diversity of life and to reestablish an ecologically healthy relationship between nature and culture.
The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization that works to protect ecologically important lands and water.
LEED Online documentation for achievement of SSc5 on a certified Gold LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. 2009 project.
Use this spreadsheet to determine credit compliance with the off-site restoration path of this credit.
This sample LEED Online form with annotations demonstrates how to document SSc5.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems.-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. For more information, visit LEED Online and click "Sample Forms Download."
Can a building achieve this credit if they are on a very large wooded lot with 50-60% of the site simply being untouched forest without any management? I've seen the credit go through before with a description of the native plants, but no description of how the land is "maintained" and I'm wondering if the maintenance is a solid requirement.
If maintenance is required, what are the minimum-maximum amounts of oversight/maintenance that are required for credit compliance?
You don't have to submit evidence of maintenance activities for on-site habitat areas; this is a requirement for off-site areas only.
I have an example with 26% of green area in the site (including the building). Most of this area is a green lawn, but it is not used water and fertilizer, the weather is favorable even in times of drought.
By not using fertilizer and irrigation for this type of vegetation and not affect native species, can be considered as vegetation adapted and tell the whole area for credit SSc5?
Gabriel, probably not. The intent of the credit is to provide habitat and promote biodiversity. A lawn, even one that survives the summer, is probably a monoculture that doesn't offer much in the way of habitat. Try mixing species and including regionally appropriate species for habitat.
Thanks for the quick return.
I also agree with your statement.
According to 2009 version LEED reference guide there are two ways to calculate out native or adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive. area. Minimum should be either 25% of total site area ( without building footprintBuilding 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.) or 5% of total site area ( including building footprint).
My questions are : Is it always the greater value resulted from one of these two methods to be compared with ? Is there chance to choose which calculating method is decided to use and compare in this credit on LEED template online?
we really appreciate any answers and comments from you !!! Thanks
Sofia, according to the credit language, you are supposed to choose the greater of those two values.
We recently recieved our project review for a property. Initially, we attempted to claim a retention pond as an on-site protected land. The reviewer had doubts as to the value of the lake as a natural habitat and has marked the credit as pending. Is it possible to switch methods and pursue off-site restoration for our final submission?
Ryan, it is fine to change course like this for the final review.
The credit form is asking for a contract with the owner of the off-site property. Do we need a contract between an owner and himself, or a document that states the requirements for the credit and signed by the owner? See below:
Provide a copy of the contract with the owner of the offsite natural area, which details the nature and level of support provided by the LEED project in improving and/or maintaining the off-site natural area.
Aron, I wouldn't try to do a "contract," but draft a document with the management details expected by LEED, with the owner committing to that, and signing it.
Does anyone know the basic market price/acre or price/credit for securing contracts on off-site land that meets the SSc5 requirements? We obtained a Land Use Restriction Agreement from Pinhook Farm through the GFEX at $1,000/credit-year just recently (http://land.gfex.org - actually very simple, GBCI accepted them without any questions), but am curious if this is a reasonable market rate. Has anyone else used a brokerage like this before? We have another project coming up that may want to go after these credits again - does anyone have any recommendations on how to calculate a fair price?
Our leed project is a single building with other 4 buildings surrounding it. We made the LEED project boundary just around this single building, around the 5 buildings, there are a large area of natural land which can meet this credit. but within the leed project boundary, the natural land perhaps will not meet the requirement, and all the 5 buildings are under the same owner's management and have the same property management company. How can we do then? the leed project boundary can not be changed any more, shall we need to apply in an off-site mode so can to include other natural areas around the 5 buildings? But in fact all the other natural areas are all in the whole area near the project building,can it be counted off-site are? how can we do then ? do you have some suggestions ? thank you very much !
Yan, please see the guidance on the MPR3 page. You should be able to use this area for SSc5 onsite compliance, but not included it in your LEED boundary.
thank you very much,roberts, I see the MPR3 guidance, but can not find the connected part, you mean all the vegetation land around the 5 buildings can contribute to onsite compliance for this LEED building? And I need not to submit any other support documents ?
Yan, "Any land used solely to earn this credit, but not otherwise required to be included by MPR #3," does not have to be included in your LEED boundary, according to MPR3.
However, I would suggest that you still must follow reasonable methods in setting a boundary, and not gerrymander it.
Our project has a man-made pool and has vegetation and fish in the pool, I don't know whether it can meet the requirements?
In my experience, this depends on the nature of the venegation and fauna in the water body, and also if the slopes leading to the water are gradual and naturalized. So, it may meet the requirements, depending on what species are there.
Thank you for your reply, I still have some questions,Firstly, you mean if the vegetation and fauna in the water body is adapted or native ,it can meet the requirements? Secondly, I don't understand very well about this :"if the slopes leading to the water are gradual and naturalized" ,what does it mean? it's very thankful of you to make a detailed explanation !
The deck is not under a roof overhang. It is raised above the ground a foot or so, and I believe there is grass underneath.
Hmm, good question. I would likely not consider this part of the building footprintBuilding 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., based on the description above.
If the project team plans to install vegetated roof, can they earn both credits (SSc5 and SSc7.2) provided the installation meets the required area for landscaping? Is my understanding correct?
The project I was referring to is considered zero lot-line, the reason the project team is installing vegetated roof.
Would appreciate any thoughts. Thanks.
Hi Mary Ann,
A vegetated roof can contribute to SSc5, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
First, the selected species must be native or adapted to the local climate. I think its wise to play it safe and use the more strict definition of adapted, since the Reference Guide does include more than one. The definition on page 35 says that "adapted plants are cultivars of native plants that are adapted to the local climate and are not considered invasive species or noxious weeds." The key here is that they can't just be generally well suited to the climate - they must be cultivars of indigenous (native) species.
The second important thing to note is that LEED InterpretationLEED Interpretations are official answers to technical inquiries about implementing LEED on a project. They help people understand how their projects can meet LEED requirements and provide clarity on existing options. LEED Interpretations are to be used by any project certifying under an applicable rating system. All project teams are required to adhere to all LEED Interpretations posted before their registration date. This also applies to other addenda. Adherence to rulings posted after a project registers is optional, but strongly encouraged. LEED Interpretations are published in a searchable database at usgbc.org. #10231 (which is applicable to LEED EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. v2009 projects) sets up some additional constraints. This LI states that to qualify, a vegetated roof must be an intensive roof system with at least 6 inches of growing medium. Additionally, at least 6 varieties of sedum must be planted to provide a sufficient level of species diversity (if you decide to use sedum). Depending on the registration date of your project, LI #10231 may be something that your project is held to.
Hope this helps!
The credit requires Native/Adaptive vegetation, and turf seems out of the question. However, what if we use a turf variety that is Native with an addition of Low-water too? I have researched and found a turf that meets this criteria and we are considering using it for the water savings, low maintenance, and good drainage/filters rainwater nicely . Has anyone tried this approach and had turf allowed as long as it is native/adaptive?
Michelle, turf is not out of the question if it meets the credit requirements, but keep the credit intent in mind—to provide habitat.
My company currently has an off-site preservation area that we already maintain for a previous project. My question is: to fulfill this credit do we have to have a NEW off-site area? Or can we use a space that we already preserve under my company's care if it fits the minimum area requirements? Also, does it have to be verified?
Jessica, you do not need a new area, if this area has not already been claimed by another company facility for LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. credit. Follow the LEED Online credit form instructions for documentation.
Our client has a large portion of their lot with low-lying native grasses and shrubs that they maintain my mowing about once per year. The area also may contain some invasive weeds, although it is primarily native plants.
Does mowing the "protected" area disqualify the project from this credit? How about the presence of some non-native (possibly invasive) species?
If these situations are ineligible, would ceasing to mow the area during the performance period be sufficient to provide a native area for this credit? Would removing any invasive plants allow the project to earn the credit?
Patty, mowing can be a necessary management step in maintaining native landscapes, so I don't think it would disqualify the area.
Regarding the nonnative species, I would review the credit language with that question in mind. To my eye, it partly depends on a question of area—are they distributed evenly throughout the area, or not, and is the area larger than it strictly needs to be to earn the credit? Also note the reference in the credit language to improving the land—I think management toward removing those species would be in line with the credit language.
Need your suggestion and expertise on this inquiry? We do have a land which we manage and maintain, this land is covered with native vegetationPlants indigenous to a locality (native) and adapted to the local climate; they require limited irrigation following planting, do not require active maintenance such as mowing, and provide habitat value. and is not within the project LEED boundary.
Should this be classified as ONSITE or OFFSITE? Also, for OFFSITE, is it a must that the offsite facility should be own by a 3rd party?
thanks again and more power.
Hi Alfred, if this area is not within your LEED Boundary, it sounds like it would be considered OFFSITE. As long as this area is protected and it is not double counted towards other LEED projects achieving the same credit, this land can count towards the credit requirements. I would think it does not have to be 3rd-party owned but you would need to present the same type of documentation to demonstrate compliance.
We have a natural creek with undisturbed vegetation growing on both sides as part of our project boundary, and I was wondering if the calculation is the same for plantings on site? That is, to measure not according to the canopy.
Jonathan, are you wondering if the surface area of the creek itself complies? I think this aspect of the credit language pertaining to "other ecologically appropriate features" indicates that you could count the full naturalized area within your site boundary, including the surface area of the water:
"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"
Hello, I have a question regarding the off-site area. If my project is restoring an area just in front my project building, and this restored area is also inside my LEED project site boundary, but is not owned by the building owner; how do I count this area, as off site or in site?
Thanks in advance
Alicia, My take is that if the LEED project site boundary you've established complies with the MPR requirements for incorporating land under different ownership, you would be legitimate in considering these native plantings as "onsite" as long as they fall within that boundary.
Here's the language regarding inclusion of land under separate ownership within the LEED boundary (from http://www.usgbc.org/ShowFile.aspx?DocumentID=6473):
"The LEED project boundary may not include land that is owned by a party other than that which owns the LEED project unless that land is associated with and supports normal building operations for the LEED project building
We are currently pursuing EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. for a small campus of buildings and are interested in the off-site option and our company owns a large plot of land that will be redeveloped into a new building with a large area dedicated to native planting (actually, all of the open space will be restored to native plants, about 100+ acres).
Can we claim a few acres of this future restored open space in our current EBOM application? The further open space will be constructed in about three years.
Frederick, I don't think this would work this time around—maybe when you recertify in a few years. LEED-EBOMEBOM is an acronym for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, one of the LEED 2009 rating sytems. certification is meant to measure current practices at the project building.
Are there any exceptions to the LPE for this credit? Specifically, could a Certified Arborist with ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) www.isa-arbor.com-be used in place of a RLA?
Hi Alyson, To the best of my knowledge I don't think there are any exceptions to LPEs and you would need to have an RLA sign off for credit compliance.
I am trying to understand how to account for native trees. I understand that we do not count the area of the canopy, but what is at ground level. If I have a native tree that is surrounded by mulch at ground level, and the area of the mulch extents out well beyond the canopy of the tree, can I include all of that mulch area in my calculations?
There aren't explicit requirements for calculating native tree areas, but a good approach would be to use a reasonable estimate of the ground level area around the native tree that takes up the suitable growing area (in between the trunk and the canopy). The mulch area would not be considered native, so not included in the calculations.
Does installing a vertical wall in building facade or interior contribute to this credit? I assume that doing so will also promoting biodiversity.
Yu-ju, this question has come up several times on LEEDuser—if you search the site I think you will find another discussions about it.
The consensus so far has been that it would be difficult to count vertical green walls for this credit. There are several reasons I can think of for why this is difficult—key reasons include the question of how you would calculate vertical area as comparable to horizontal area; and how would you show that vertical habitat is comparable to regular habitat.
I could imagine being able to get credit at a discounted rate, such as 2 square meters of vertical count as 1 square meter of horizontal, but it would be up to the project to prove that this is appropriate.
If you do proceed, please let us know how it goes. Any if anyone else has done this, please speak up!
Has anyone had success contending that exotic plants in the project area should be counted for credit (or partial credit) because they are providing functional benefits related to habitat protection, such as erosion control and soil stabilization, animal food sources, shade, windbreaks, temperature regulation, soil moisture control, oxygen production, water infiltration, cover from predators, and in the case where exotics exhibit site specific adaptations where natives would not survive, etc.?
I haven't been in this situation, but I doubt you will find that anyone has had success with this. The LEED standards for native/adapted plants are fairly strict. However, it may be a good nudge to LEED to try it! The last idea, about exotics being specially adapted, seems like the most likely one of the ideas you gave. If you do try it, let us know how it goes.
Thanks for your thoughts Tristan. I will let the forum know how it goes.
Similar question for us - we use plants that are technically native to Korea (partially as a cultural exchange exercise), but since we are in the same latitude as Korea, they are well adapted to our region. Is the term "adaptive" then somewhat open to interpretation? Or is it really limited to just "cultivars of natives."
Emily, I think LEED's definition of adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive. would allow for what you describe, although it is always up to some interpretation.
Page 36 of the Ref Guide, section 4, states that monoculture plantings (such as turf) cannot contibute to the credit requirements. I could interpret this 2 ways:
a. landscapes that use on only plant type (such as turf) for the entire project cannot be counted, or
b. in a mixed plant environment, we must exclude the turf portions from the calculations
THE QUESTION: So when adapted turf is part of a multiple plant project, can the turf area be counted ?
Stephen, counting turf towards habitat is always prohibited, whether there are other plants kicking around or not.
Our site area includes a variety of species of plants (including native and adapted) as well as turf, and there are overlaps. We were advised to remove the turf areas from the area calculation.
How do we deal with this overlaps - in order to properly segregate the area valid for obtaining points for this category (of native and adapted plants) from the area that should be excluded (turf, non-native/non-adapted if any)?
For instance, if a native/adapted plant - shrub or tree has sufficient spread or branch cover and below it is turf. Do we measure it from 'top view' to include the shaded portion of the native/adapted plant eliminating the turf area below it for computation or not?
I would suggest it best to take a conservative approach and not include the branch cover or canopy area that shades the turf as part of your native plant area calculations.
I saw in a reply to a previous post ("Existing Trees" June 24, 2010) that the area of a tree should be based on the ground, not the canopy. Does this mean the area of the trunk or planting bed (i.e. area of mulch maintained around the tree)? Has anyone successfully applied for this credit and counted an area larger than the trunk (i.e. planting bed or canopy)?
Yes, this credit is documented by showing the area of planted area that is supporting the landscaping.
If you have a tree with a large canopy that extends beyond the planting bed or planting strip you still need to use the area of the pervious, landscaped soil. I have seen a review that denied an attempt to count the canopy area that was larger than the planter bed area. Hope that helps!
Thanks for your reply, David. I'll run with your advice and see where that gets us.
Hi, if we going to attempt this credit,do we need to implement IPM as well for the newly adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive.?
No, not to meet the requirements of SSc5. You would have to do this for SSc3, however.
i just need to test my understanding: the LPE path, which is available for this credit, means that all we would need to do is ensure that the landscape architect, who has been involved in the landscaping and irrigation from the onset (design, development and maintenance) signs off on the requirement of the credit without having to work through the full compliance path?
we would already be de-facto in compliant (without having gone through the full required documentation process) and we have full landscape site plans, which indicate species and irrigation systems - but if we can short-circuit the process, this would help cost and resources.
think i just found the answer myself, by reviewing the information contained in the LEED online LPE tabs, which is, fortunately, quite specific and detailed.
Great, glad you found that. Feel free to post again if you learn anything interesting in the course of your process.
We have a 3 acre pond in front of our facility. The pond was bult due to run off requirements per the county, (not a natural body). The pond is utilized for geothermal heating and cooling (reservoir for closed loops). We do have geese, and ducks that are "natural habitat" for the pond. Can the pond be counted towards SS c5, if we do not have any activities in regards to restoration?
The credit language (see above) explicitly mentions water bodies, so it's clear that your approach here is possible.
I think the burden of proof will be on you to show that the water body is truly a natural area that promotes biodviersity. Some things to consider might be what is the vegetation surrounding the pond (native or adapted plants, not turf grass), vegetation in the pond (no aquatic invasives), does the pond have a natural shape and slope that allows it to blend into the landscape and provide a variety of habitats? What does a natural pond in your region look like, and how does it compare with your pond?
I have seen geese and ducks at lots of ponds that I wouldn't consider "natural habitat" for the area that they're in, so I wouldn't call it a day just yet, but this seems doable.
How are existing trees counted. We have several old large trees on our site that are not native, and loathe the thought of cutting them down to satisfy this credit. Is the size of their canopy counted or the footprint of their trunk.
It seems that this credit should have an exception for existing large non-native trees, since leaving them in place outweighs the incremental environmental benefit of replacing them with native species that might take decades to reach a comparable size.
Are the trees invasive or noxious species in your area? If not, they might be considered adaptive (see credit language), and they could contribute to the credit. The fact that they're not native is not enough reason to give up yet!
I had read the language and while the trees are not considered invasive or noxious, they are not native cultivars either.
I'm a big fan of going all native, but it seems a shame to tear down large trees for the credit. I'm in SoCal and there aren't many large trees in our urban areas.
Yes, I checked with a colleague and they noted that they have felt that the LEED definition of adapted vegetationAdapted (or introduced) plants reliably grow well in a given habitat with minimal winter protection, pest control, fertilization, or irrigation once their root systems are established. Adapted plants are considered low maintenance and not invasive. is overly restrictive. "I’ve always thought of adapted as simply being non-invasive plants that have adjusted to the climate and need little maintenance" was her comment.
I would suggest that getting a LEED point isn't worth cutting down some nice trees.
Geoff - I'm not an expert in this particular area, but I'm fairly confident in saying that you shouldn't cut down those trees. The intent of the credit is to provide habitat and biodiversity, and replacing an established healthy tree with some native shrubbery is, in my mind, a clear step backwards. I think you can safely measure the SF of vegetation based on the ground, not the canopy, and I'm hopeful that would accurately illustrate the habitat value of your landscaping. But I think Tristan was spot on in saying a LEED point isn't worth cutting down good trees.
I have a similar question, our green roof covers about 4.97% of the site area. There is no turf grass and It received a water efficient landscaping credit under LEED NC.
My question is would a 4.97% be sufficient or do i need 5% exactly, and is their no other way to achieve this credit without hiring a landscape architect.
I couldn't say for sure, but with other credits (like LEED-NC SSc4.3) LEED does not allow you to round up. You could try rounding up, or tweaking the calculations to make it work, but be prepared to have it questioned during LEED review.
There's no requirement to use an landscape architect to achieve this credit, but it can be helpful.
We would like to use our green roof towards this credit. The roof is intensive with a mix of a variey of sedums and succulents. Is this considered "habitat providing native and adaptive plants"? The refernece guide says "Vegetative roofs that lack a diversity of habitat providing species types and plant sizes do not meet the intention of this credit." Could you clarify for me what is considered a diverse habitiat?
Native and adapted vegetation can typically be maintained with little or no landscape waste, fertilizer use, and pesticide or water use.
Native habitat can aid in stormwater infiltration.
Replacing hardscape with native habitat helps reduce the urban heat island effect.
Vegetated roofs can provide native habitat while complying with this credit.
Native and adapted vegetation can typically be maintained with no irrigation beyond establishment.
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