NC-v2.2 SSc4.1: Alternative Transportation—Public Transportation Access

  • SSc4.1 flowchart
  • Site selection makes all the difference

    Site selection is the key factor in determining how easily a project can qualify for this credit. If your project is located in a densely populated area that is well-served by public transportation, it should be very easy to meet the requirements.

    An all-around good idea

    Facilitating access to public transportation not only brings environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and fewer cars on the road, but it can also reduce commuting costs for building occupants and help attract new hires and retain employees.

    Options for larger projects

    Larger-scale projects may want to consider working with local transit authorities to bring public transportation access near the project site if none already exists. You may not need to ask for an entirely new bus route—some other options include diverting an existing bus route or adding a stop on a route that runs nearby.

    Go by streetcarLocating in neighborhoods with public transit, like Portland, Oregon’s Pearl District, reduces transportation energy use while giving occupants more options. Photo – Reconnecting America If public transportation cannot be brought closer to your project site, multiple past CIRs indicate that providing shuttles to existing public transit—either regularly scheduled or on demand, can satisfy the credit requirements as an alternative compliance path.

Legend

  • Best Practices
  • Gotcha
  • Action Steps
  • Cost Tip

Pre-Design

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  • Selecting a site with easy access to public transportation is the easiest way to earn this credit, so ideally this credit will be considered during site selection. Projects located in dense urban areas generally can qualify, whereas projects located in rural or suburban areas, where public transportation infrastructure is not as developed, may need to facilitate access to existing mass transit nearby (via an alternative compliance including shuttle service), which may in some cases be difficult or expensive.


  • If there are no bus stops or train stations in the project’s immediate vicinity, consider talking to local transit authorities to see if a bus line can be rerouted closer to the project site, or if a bus stop can be added near the building to serve the occupants.


  • There is generally no extra cost for projects with access to existing transportation access or those that request an added bus stop.


  • Establishing a regular shuttle for building occupants to a transportation hub (for alternative compliance when a project doesn’t meet the basic credit requirements) can add additional costs. However, making commuting easier for your employees, or making your building more accessible to customers can pay off in productivity or sales.


  • A transit-oriented project may need less parking area, contributing to SSc4.4: Alternative Transportation—Parking Capacity. You can also reduce your costs for parking construction, maintenance, and stormwater infrastructure and fees.

Schematic Design

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  • Typically, the owner or LEED consultant is responsible for documenting access to public transportation and should identify local stations and bus routes closest to the project, reaching out to local transit authorities if necessary.


  • To document the credit create a vicinity site map, to scale, illustrating the building in relation to the bus lines or rail stations that will be used for compliance. A delineated walking route from the project to the transit stop is also recommended.


  • One commuter train station within a half-mile walking distance is sufficient to meet the credit requirement. This can be a local metro, subway, light rail or long-distance commuter line. Alternatively, two bus lines within ¼ mile walking distance can satisfy the credit requirement. These can be private, public, or campus bus lines.


  • Walking distance should be measured from a building entrance to the bus stop or rail station. This path must follow sidewalks and other walkable areas. Crossing highways, lawns or other private areas is not considered an acceptable part of pedestrian access.


  • Some projects have two or three “main” entrances from which to measure the distance to bus stops or rail stations. If any one of these entrances is within the required distance, this can qualify your project for the credit. Confirm in the credit narrative which entries are “main” entries.


  • Public, private, or campus bus lines in proximity to the project site can be used for credit compliance as long as building occupants have consistent access at peak times. If there is an existing shuttle that runs nearby to the project site with restricted access, consider talking to bus operators to see if you can get permission for your project occupants to use the shuttle. (See the Documentation Toolkit for an example using a shuttle from the project site.) If this compliance path is pursued, be sure to provide a comprehensive summary in the optional narrative section of the Submittal Template. 


  • If a rail station or bus stop that you plan to use for compliance has not yet been built, you will need to provide proof that it will be funded, sited and planned at the time of project completion. (It does not have to be built, however.)


  • A bus line that goes in separate directions (for example, one into town, one out of town), counts as a single bus line, not two, and does not meet the credit requirement for two bus lines. Compliant bus lines must serve two distinct routes. The simplest way to determine this is to verify that the buses display two different route numbers. Two routes that converge near the project and then diverge blocks away count as separate.


  • Consider options for pursuing an Exemplary Performance point for this credit. These may include:

    • Developing a comprehensive transportation management plan. The plan must quantify the reduction of personal automobile use by building occupants due to a variety of alternative transportation options and strategies. This same Exemplary Performance point covers all of the Alternative Transportation credits. Refer to ID CIR rulings from 5/9/2003 and 9/22/2006 for additional details.  
    • Demonstrate access to double the number of train lines or bus lines. The frequency of service at these particular stations must total a minimum of 200 rides daily. (See the Documentation Toolkit for an example.) Refer to SSc4.1 CIR ruling from 9/22/06 for details.

  • Documentation of this credit can occur anytime between schematic design and 100% construction documents, as soon as the locations of your main entries are set.

Construction Documents

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  • Fill in the LEED Online submittal template. Document the credit with a site plan highlighting the pedestrian route from the building entrance to the identified bus or train stop or stops. Provide a distance scale to confirm that the building entrance is within the required distance of transit—¼ mile for bus routes, ½ mile for train.

Operations & Maintenance

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  • Consider providing building occupants with information about public transportation options in the vicinity and instituting programs that promote their use, such as subsidized passes or other financial incentives. This could be part of a wider transportation management plan, which is one available strategy for gaining an Exemplary Performance point under IDc1. To meet this ID point, project teams would have to institute a Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan that promotes the use of alternate transportation and limits the use of personal vehicles.

  • USGBC

    Excerpted from LEED for New Construction and Major Renovations Version 2.2

    SS Credit 4.1: Alternative transportation - public transportation access

    1 Point

    Intent

    Reduce pollution and land development impacts from automobile use.

    Requirements

    Locate project within 1/2 mile of an existing, or planned and funded, commuter rail, light rail or subway station.
    OR

    Locate project within 1/4 mile of one or more stops for two or more public or campus busA campus or private bus is a bus or shuttle service that is privately operated and not available to the general public. In LEED, a campus or private bus line that falls within 1/4 mile of the project site and provides transportation service to the public can contribute to earning credits. lines usable by building occupants.

    Potential Technologies & Strategies

    Perform a transportation survey of future building occupants to identify transportation needs. Site the building near mass transit.

Web Tools

Google Maps

Identify and map walking distances to the nearest bus/rail stops from the project site.


Walkscore.com

A great site for finding walkable communities and neighborhoods.


Hopstop.com

Subway and bus directions for NY.


Public transportation resources

Find public transportation around your site.


Project for public spaces

List of online resources on encouraging public transportation and space usage.


Institute for Transportation and Development Policy

This is a list of resources on increase of access to public transportation and walkability of cities.


Radius Around a Point

Helps to determine the radius around a project site to determine how many bus stops and other amenities are nearby.

Technical Guides

USGBC guide for campus building

Important to refer to in case of multi-building development.


Guide to transportation management plan

This encyclopedia is a comprehensive source of information about innovative management solutions to transportation problems.

Organizations

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

Government organization dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries, and reducing vehicle-related crashes.


Walkable Communities Transportation Alternatives

Organization advocating for pedestrians.

Publications

Comprehensive Transporation Management Plan for Seattle Children’s Hospital

A sample plan highlighting enhanced transportation options, including a shuttle to transit system, an innovative bicycle program, and increased financial rewards for employees who commute without driving alone.


Commuting Guide for Employers

This website outlines strategies employers can use to encourage employees to commute by bicycle.

Other

Commuter Program at Juniper Networks

Video of a good transportation plan that highlights company’s mass transit subsidies and telecommuting programs as well as its financial incentives, which helped the company achieve over 24% trip reduction in 2007.

Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan

These sample comprehensive transportation management plans demonstrate how to 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 under SSc4. 

Vicinity Map

Option 2: Bus Stop Proximity

Use a vicinity map like this to demonstrate your project's proximity to public transit. Include the number and location of stations or lines and the walking distances from main building entrances.

Alternative Compliance Path

This sample narrative (which was approved for a project whose name has been removed) illustrates documentation of an alternative compliance path, in which shuttle service is provided to connect the project building with a light rail station and a public bus line.

Subway Ridership

Exemplary Performance

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. was earned for this project by demonstrating proximity to at least two commuter rail lines with over 200 transit rides per day, total. (In this case, 14 subway lines with 2,227 stops per day were documented.)

LEED Online Sample Template – SSc4.1

 

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.

 

USGBC

Official LEED Online Forms

Design Submittal

PencilDocumentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.

26 Comments

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Peter Doo President Doo Consulting, LLC
Oct 01 2015
LEEDuser Member
3712 Thumbs Up

proof of exemplary

Project Location: United States

Our project is located in NE DC, and can easily achieve 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.. However, LEED Online requires timetables for each bus stop with number of stops/day from the bus stop documented. However, the DC Metro system does not list every single bus stop along a route, only the "major" intersection ones. So, while this project does have two or more bus stops accessing four or more lines, there is no way to show this based on what LEED online requires. Any ideas how to go about this? Thanks!

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 27 2015 LEEDuser Moderator

Peter, can you approximate the timetable, or make up your own?

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Sheryl Swartzle Sustainability Specialist TLC Engineering for Architecture
Nov 27 2013
LEEDuser Member
1200 Thumbs Up

Shuttle distance to light rail station

Our NCv2.2 project has a shuttle bus available to building occupants and visitors that provides service to the local tri-rail station. The train station is approx. 3 miles (driving distance) from the building. Is there a distance restriction in v2.2 or would this shuttle be acceptable to achieve SSc4.1?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Dec 23 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Sheryl, as you may know this is specifically addressed for LEED 2009 projects with an addendum. It is discussed in an FAQ on our LEED 2009 forum for this credit. For a v2.2 project, I am not sure of specific guidance, but based on the v2009 language I am doubtful you could earn the credit.

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Joann Lee Heitman Architects Inc.
Oct 23 2013
LEEDuser Member
764 Thumbs Up

CIR a possibility?

Our project is located in an old historical, depressed, industrial area. The project is part of the ownership's efforts to give back and revitalize the nearby community. The project building entry is 0.57 mile walking distance from a train station and has one bus stop within 1/4 mi. It's unlikely the city transit authority would add another bus stop. I am wondering if anybody had an experience with 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 if they would lax the requirement given the difficulty of the site. The project is pursuing LEED Platinum, and this credit is crucial being worth 6 points.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Nov 04 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Joann, a few thoughts.

1) Start by contacting GBCIThe Green Building Certification Institute (GBCI) manages Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building certification and professional accreditation processes. It was established in 2008 with support from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). with this query. They might tell you "no" or to submit 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 but besides time there is no cost to asking them first.

2) My guess is that this would not be approved in the end. I simply don't see difficult conditions, rounding errors, or other factors like those you mention as coming into play with credit approvals.

3) Are you posting to the right forum? This is the v2.2 forum, where the credit is worth only 1 point.

4) Make up the loss of this credit while showing commitment to the issue, by pursuing an EP point for a Comprehensive Transportation Management Plan.

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Valentin Grimaud Thermal Engineer TERAO Green Building Engineering
May 05 2013
LEEDuser Member
1331 Thumbs Up

Shuttle bus

Recently, I'm working on an industrial project for a new factory. The client wants to put in place a shuttle bus specially for the managers of the factory. As the other employees live near the site, they can come to work by bicycles. My question is if we could earn this credit in this way ? Thanks for your suggestions!

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Jul 18 2013 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

No, the shuttle bus needs to be available to all employees and visitors to the factory.

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Mary Ostafi Sustainability Specialist HOK
Nov 07 2012
Guest
257 Thumbs Up

Campus Bus Lines

I am working on a University building that has 1 city bus line within 1/4 mile walking distance, and about 8 SEASONAL OR WEEKDAY ONLY campus busA campus or private bus is a bus or shuttle service that is privately operated and not available to the general public. In LEED, a campus or private bus line that falls within 1/4 mile of the project site and provides transportation service to the public can contribute to earning credits. lines within distance. I did not see any language in the LEED v2.2 reference guide indicating the frequency of bus service. Can anyone please verify if I can expect to attain this credit.
Thanks

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Susan Walter Specifications Director, Populous Nov 08 2012 LEEDuser Expert 22431 Thumbs Up

First, are the campus busA campus or private bus is a bus or shuttle service that is privately operated and not available to the general public. In LEED, a campus or private bus line that falls within 1/4 mile of the project site and provides transportation service to the public can contribute to earning credits. lines open to all users or just students and faculty? If they are just for the university user, I would anticipate you would be out of this credit. If the buses are open to all users then I would say you have a shot at it. It would be worth filling out the form and narrating the use of the campus lines.

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Patrice Coffman Sustainability Coordinator UC Davis Student Housing
Aug 04 2011
Guest
229 Thumbs Up

Walking Distance vs. Radius

I have seen a number of submittals for this credit showing the project is located within a 1/4 mile radius of at least two bus lines. My understanding is that the project must be within 1/4 mile walking distance.

Have projects successfully earned this credit with the radius approach? Have projects had the credit denied using the radius approach?

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Aug 08 2011 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

The 2.2 credit language has confused people - whether a .25 mile radius is acceptable or whether it must be documented with a .25 mile walking distance on a map. (The 2009 language is much more clear that it must be shown by walking distance.) The sample area drawing in the 2.2 Reference Guide does show a linear walking distance, and we have seen reviewers of 2.1 and 2.2 projects ask to see the walking distance on the site plan and not just a radius diagram. We've also seen project approved with the .25 mile radius shown, but my guess is these have been accepted when the stops were well with the .25 mile radius.
If you are right on the edge of that .25 mile radius, you may be asked to show the walking distance, so be prepared to also document the frequency of bus service. In a few cases where there were not 2 stops exactly with .25 mile distance, projects have been successful with an alternative compliance path that shows more detail about the level of transit service provided. (See interpretation #704 for one example.) You'd want to show with number of bus lines, number of stops per day, frequency, access to other modes, etc. that you are providing an equivalent or better access to transit than 2 lines within .25 miles with at least 50 rides each per day.

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Lisa Vandevoort Business Manager Architecture Incorporated
Jul 05 2011
LEEDuser Member
131 Thumbs Up

Public Shuttle

The city where our project is located is not large enough to sustain a bus system. However there is a "call and ride" bus available.
If we were to document that the frequency of operation, past usage (near the project site), capacity of the bus, and average distance people are riding, is equivalent or better than two standard bus, would we be able to work toward an alternative compliance?

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Jul 05 2011 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

It's possible that might be accepted as an alternative compliance path, but I wouldn't have high expectations for it to pass. You may want to present this as part of an over-all transit management plan that uses several methods to reduce single occupant car use.

First, you'll want to create a baseline of how many employees and visitors would be traveling to and from your project by single occupant vehicles if no transit services existed. You'll need to make reasonable assumptions about the geographic and demographic area your project serves, and the distance and locations people will be traveling from.

Then, describe the transit services you are providing - the call and ride bus would be one, but are there others such as an organized car pooling network, a public car-share program like Zipcar, incentives for shared car use or biking, or a second scheduled shuttle at peak commuting times?

Lastly, you'd want to predict what the percent reduction of single occupant vehicle use will be with the transit management plan. This can be hard to predict, and convince the reviewer that the predictions are credible, so it helps if there is data from any similar programs in other companies or cities that have already demonstrated some measurable reductions of car use.

If you want to get an early review of your proposed plan you could always submit 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, or you could wait till the Design Phase review to see if technical advice is offered or if it is accepted.
Hope that helps!

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Renaud Gay Shanghai Pacific Energy Center
Jun 07 2011
LEEDuser Member
267 Thumbs Up

Bicycle area for a resort

Hi there.

I am working on a private resort project that is constituted of many small villas located on a big site.

Previous 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 mentioned that for such mixed used project, 5% of bicycle parking should be provided for FTEs and 15% for residents. We already have this for the FTE but wonder about the residents one.

No cars will be allowed on the site; bicycle are allowed to park anywhere and the resort will be private, i.e. controlled. The project team wonders if that won't be enough to meet the requirements, rather than to have special dedicated area in each villa.

In my opinion, only the fact that the dedicated area must be covered makes a non compliance for us. What is your opinion? Many thanks

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Jun 07 2011 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

We've seen large closets or storage units in apartments used for bike parking instead of racks, so other arrangements are possible than a typical rack. Still, you'll need to show on the drawings a designated covered place where bikes can be stored for residents to use. You'll also want to explain in the narrative that the whole site is secured.

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Daniel Grandy
May 19 2011
LEEDuser Member
48 Thumbs Up

Public Transportation Credit allocation + meeting the intent

1) Would you explain how the 6 available credits are allocated?

2) We have a project with 2 public bus lines/stops within 1/4 mile of the site that connect to a light rail system. The owner also provides a public shuttle service with pick-up/drop-off within 300' of our building that also connects to the light rail system. The buses and shuttle run 12-14 times each, per day, generally from 6:30am to 7:30pm to and from the light rail stations. The light rail system runs +/-60 times per day. Will this fulfill the intent of the public transportation credit?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. May 19 2011 LEEDuser Moderator

Daniel, it sounds like you clearly meet Option 2 for this credit. Do you have any uncertainty about that?

I don't understand your first question.

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects May 19 2011 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

In case question 1 is asking if earning fewer than 6 is possible, the answer is no, it's all 6 or none.

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Terry Squyres Principal GWWO Inc./Architects
Feb 08 2011
LEEDuser Member
1104 Thumbs Up

Alternative Compliance

We are working on a national monument located on a peninsula. Approx. 20% of visitors arrive by water taxi and public transportation, with more arriving via school buses and tour buses. I can’t find 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 that establishes these as alternative compliance options for LEED 2.2. Is there any precedent? Thank you.

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Feb 08 2011 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

Elizabeth,
True, the CIRs for NCv2.2 SSc4.1 don't address your situation exactly, but it the rulings on 9/25/2008 and 7/13/2009 may help interpret your project.

The 9/25/ 2008 ruling suggests that private tour buses and school buses don't count as public transit, since they are not available to the general public.

The 7/13/2009 ruling suggests that the water taxi may comply if it serves the general public, and other transit lines link to where it launches/ departs for the monument. If you have any other public transit lines that come all the way to the monument without using the water taxi those could count as well. You'll need to show that two different public transit routes can be used to access the monument, such as two bus lines that provide access to the water taxi, or one that serves the launch and another that serves the monument directly.

You'll probably also need to show that the buses or water taxi stop within a 1/4 mile walk of the building entry.

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Terry Squyres Principal, GWWO Inc./Architects Feb 08 2011 LEEDuser Member 1104 Thumbs Up

We do have bus linkages on both ends, so your comments will help us to make that case. Thank you, David.

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Keelan Kaiser Architect and Educator Serena Sturm Architects and Judson University
Dec 22 2010
Guest
1452 Thumbs Up

Alternative compliance option?

I am working with a private school that has 1 bus line within the 1/4 mile radius. The school does not have a bus service, but there is an extensive and organized carpooling system as an alternative to a bus system. Could carpooling/ride sharing be viewed as an alternative compliance path for this credit?

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David Posada Integrated Design & LEED Specialist, SERA Architects Dec 23 2010 Guest 21388 Thumbs Up

I'd estimate you may have difficulty getting the carpools accepted as an alternative compliance path, but if you follow the guidelines for a comprehensive transit management plan as referenced in the checklist above you might succeed. If you go into the review with a few extra buffer points you'll be a lot safer.

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William Bussard
Jul 23 2010
Guest
84 Thumbs Up

Private Shuttle Service

Is it possible to attain 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 if the owner provides a shuttle service to and from the building? How would I document this?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Executive Editor – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jul 24 2010 LEEDuser Moderator

William this might contribute to an EP point here, but it's a bit more complex than that. The requirements for an EP point under SSc4 are discussed under the Checklists tab above.

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