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.
Although the LEED Reference Guide states that there is no 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 available for this credit, projects can achieve a point 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.
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 from 9/22/06 confirms that this is allowed. If future developments or services are planned and under construction by the time your project is complete, they can help your project meet the credit requirements.
Per CIR 10/17/06, basic services within a project cannot contribute to the credit requirements. Eight of the ten services for Option 2 have to be existing and in operation at the time of the project opening.
The credit requirements for v2.2 and v2009 are exactly the same, However, the specifics of what can qualify as a basic service are further defined and outlined in v2009.
For v2.2, basic services that are in construction by project completion can contribute to the credit requirements. For v2009, these basic services must be in operation. Additionally, for mixed-use projects, under v2.2 no basic services that are part of your project can contribute to the credit requirements. In v2009, 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.
For mixed-use projects, basic services that are part of your project cannot contribute towards the 10 required to achieve the credit (CIR 10/17/06).
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 these services will at least be in construction by the time the project is finished. 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.
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 Letter Template 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.
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 for New Construction and Major Renovations Version 2.2
Channel development to urban areas with existing infrastructure, protect greenfields and preserve habitat and natural resources.
Construct or renovate 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 (Note: density calculation must include the area of the project being built and is based on a typical two-story downtown development).
Construct or renovate building on a previously developed site AND within 1/2 mile of a residential zone or neighborhood with an average density of 10 units per acre net AND within 1/2 mile of at least 10 basic sServices AND with pedestrian access between the building and the services.
Basic services include, but are not limited to:
Proximity is determined by drawing a 1/2 mile radius around the 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.
This template is the flattened, public version of the dynamic template for this credit that is used within LEED-Online v2 by registered project teams. This and other public versions of LEED credit templates come from the USGBC website, and are posted on LEEDuser with USGBC's permission. You'll need to fill out the live version of this template on LEED Online to document this credit.
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.
Does the density calc include the square footage of the proposed building? Or just the site area of the project? Thanks.
Can you have 2 of a type of service count towards your 10 services? For instance, can you have a hairstylist and a nail salon even though they are both "beauty salons"? If a Cub Foods has a pharmacy - can you count it both as supermarket and as a pharmacy? Thank you.
You can only have 1 "beauty salon" so either the hairstylist or the nail salon can count, but not both. The only exception is restaurants, where you can have up to 2. You may have better luck in the situation where you have a pharmacy within a supermarket but I would try to find a backup basic service just in case.
Is the gross building area include the basement or under ground floor or not.
Usama, there is quite a bit of discussion about this further down the thread. The consensus is that it depends on what kinds of spaces are in the basement level areas.
Hi Ellen I have a question : this calculation of density is based on a typical two-story downtown development and must include the area of the project being built.... what is the formula for calculating this and how do they come up with the number : a minimum density of 60,000 square feet per acre net?
if you can explain i will really appreciate it. thanks
nevermind i found the formula but still dont know how they come up with 60.000
Gross density =
Total residential units / total development land area
Net density =
Total residential units / total residential land area (excludes roads, open spaces, and other uses)
My density circle encompasses 85 separate buildings in the East Village, NYC. The LEED template allows for 60 entries for neighboring buildings. It seems crazy to have input every building, but that's beside the point, any advice on what to do about the 25 remaining entries?
Yeah, the v2.2 forms are not as flexible in terms of adding/subtracting rows. I would just put a note in the form to see attached spreadsheet and complete your documentation there. You could even manipulate the form to only have your final numbers on a single row so that the form will register that compliance has been documented.
I´m in process of certify a health care project. The project site is next to several services, among them a Courrier office and this can be the 10th service to achieve SS Credit 2 if Courrier services can be considered as post services, so Can a Courrier office be considered as post office?
I have had success in the past using a FedEx office as a post office but I believe it was in a v2.2 project. I think you have a good chance of having it pass in v3, but it wouldn't hurt to have a back up service just in case.
i have a commercial interior building that lies in an office park with a lot of landscaped areas , can this be considered as the park as one of the 10 basic services surrounding the building ?
also beside the building, there is a natural reserve , can it be considered as a park ?
I don't think you are going to have much luck counting the landscaped area around your office as a park. The natural reserve you may have a chance with but it is hard to say for sure without more information - is the nature park accessible to people? Are there ammenities like picnic benches or trails that people can use? If there is no way for people to access it, I'm guessing you will have a hard time with that one as well.
For an athletic facility, the seating and the concourse are not conditioned spaces and are therefore technically not a part of the building. Does that mean they cannot be counted as part of the gross building area required under the SS Credit 2 development density option? Thanks in advance for any guidance provided!
I have struggled with this too on stadium projects. I think the safe approach is to use the literal definition LEED gives us of gross area, which "excludes non-enclosed roofed-over areas, covered walkways, terraces, roof overhangs, etc".
We are working on a military project where there is a multistory BEQ (bachelor enlisted quarters) within a half mile radius of the building entrance; however, our map exhibit shows the whole barracks is not within the radius - only a portion of one wing of the building. Perhaps 25-30% of the BEQ site falls within the radius. Can anyone comment on the likelihood of this being accepted or if any official clarifying language has ever been issued?
As I understand it, the whole building would need to fall inside the 1/2 mile radius. The only argument I could see using is if you can prove that you meet the density with just the 30% that does fall within the radius. This would require knowing exactly how many units of that BEQ are in your boundary. Not sure this will fly, but it's worth a shot.
We have a project where we meet the Option 2 variation of this credit, but the pedestrian access is a bit of a challenge. It is a suburban Chicago site, without sidewallks. The streets are low-volume, certainly not freeways/highways as the definition in the reference guide notes, but they are streets non-the-less without a continuous sidewalk to and from services. There are no other barriers. There is a paved bike path that provides a partial connection between the new building and a semi-urban villiage center with 10+ services as required. I can't find anywhere that a continuous sidewalk is noted, but I have to assume that is the intent of this credit. Are continuous accessible sidewalk routes a requirement of this credit or not?
I also have not found anything that requires a continuous sidewalk for access to the amenities. And if these roads are truly walkable and not high volume, it sounds as if you will be ok to achieve the credit. It's not required but if you feel nervous about the review, I would identify the pedestrian route to the amenities on your map.
I'm working on a new proposed LEED project for a continuing care retirement community. A new building with 100 units. The site is 20 acres. There are currently two buildings on this site. One has 175 resident apartment units, and the other is office space, and health and wellness center. The ex. buildings are owned by the same individual. The ex buildings and the new proposed building will have different address, due to how they are located in a corner. My question is, although the existing residents building is owned by the same client, and it's all on the same site, can I use this ex. building to count for the the development density requirement of 10 units per acre net. This is option 2, where the new building must be 1/2 mile of a residential area or neighborhood with an average density of 10 units per acre net? Does this ex, building qualify as a residential area?
Is there a problem on this credit's template for LEED-NC 2.2? We are going under Option 2, Community Connectivity, and can't list more than 1 community service using either the template that we download from LEEDonline or from LEEDuser. Thanks for your help.
You should be able to list all 10 of your basic services within that one line. It's not intuitive and is a bit different from how other LEED templates are set up, but just create your own list within each of the spaces provide. Each cell will expand to accommodate your list. Maintain a numbering system in each column/cell and make sure it corresponds with the site vicinity plan that you upload and you should be set.
Are the services on a campus considered the same as the services in the community? Example: Can the chapel, student union (which may include a post office, barbershop, cafeteria), gym, dining hall, etc., count as community services proximate to the project site?
Peter, yes, I would say so, but there will be some gray areas and judgement involved and some things may not pan out.
I have the same situation as Peter. The Reference Guide states that services in a mixed-use project must be open to the public (RG p.28). To me that implies that all campus facilities must be open to the public as well, which they're presumably not. I think I'll submit this as is and hope the LEED review team approves it, but I'm skeptical...
Maura, that was one of the areas I was thinking of as an issue, as well. In a university campus a lot of these services will be typically open to anyone. At a smaller high school, probably not as much. Certainly let us know how this goes when you get your review.
I always try to be conservative – there might be services closer to the project but if they are questionable I would use a service farther away but still within the range.
FWIW, we've just received a review on a dormitory project where we were asked to demonstrate that campus services we listed for this credit (Rec Center, Health Center, etc) are open to the general public. I'm sure several of them are not open to the public, so I'll be looking for alternatives.
Step-by-step instructions for graphically documenting compliance with Options 1 or 2.
Director of Sustainability
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.
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