This credit addresses two basic issues: density of the surrounding neighborhood and occupant access to everyday services. It encourages use of existing infrastructure and tries to reduce environmental impacts of transportation. It’s easier for projects located in a densely built area or with a host of community services nearby.
This credit is not likely to drive the project location decision, but it does reward projects for locating in developed areas and for choosing infill instead of greenfield sites (you can’t earn the credit on a site that is not previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development."). In determining how easily your project can comply, site selection is one key factor, but so is the availability of property and building data.
There are two compliance options for this credit. Unless you are in a dense urban neighborhood where either option is possible, your choice will probably be determined by the specifics of your project.
Project teams should assess early in the planning stage which path is most suitable based on project location and the availability of density data. The owner, architect or civil engineer often take on the role of documenting this credit—either researching community services in the project’s vicinity, or documenting the density of the project and surrounding area.
Community Connectivity is generally easier to document than Option 1. Image Courtesy YRG SustainabilityThe size of the area that has to be included in the Option 1 calculation depends on the size of your project site.
Projects can earn an Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. point through IDc1 if they meet Option 1’s requirements and are themselves twice as dense as the surrounding area, or can show that the surrounding area has double the required Option 1 density over twice the area.
Eight of the ten services for Option 2 have to be existing and in operation at the time of the project opening. Two services can be anticipated within a year of opening. One service can be within the project itself.
LEED defines residential neighborhood or area as a minimum of 10 living units (i.e. an apartment unit or house) per acre. Apartment buildings, neighborhoods, or dormitories can all contribute to this.
It can be easier to earn this credit in a dense urban environment, but an average two story downtown can also comply. Photo – YRG SustainabilityIn LEEDuser's experience, if a residential development of 10 units/acre lies within a portion of the ½-mile radius, it likely will contribute to credit compliance. This is consistent with LEED Reference Guide guidance that states, "Mark all residential developments within the radius. For the project to earn this credit, a residential area with a minimum density of 10 units per acre must be present within the radius."
Use the center of the LEED project boundary.
Yes, LEED user’s experts have had success with documenting a single property that is at least 10 units/net acre density. Any discrete area that addresses the requirements is acceptable, and an existing residential area meeting the requirements may cross property lines between different properties. For projects with residential areas that are on the cusp (or perceived as being on the cusp) of meeting the required density, you may need to provide additional documentation or an explanation as to how the residential area meets at least 10 units/net acre. Finally, it is not sufficient for the area to be zoned to the correct density, if it is not built to it.
Probably not. Project teams need to be careful when trying to pass off services not explicitly given in the LEED credit language. In most cases services not listed will not be approved. Review the credit intent and think about whether the additional services—in the absence of other basic services—are pedestrian-oriented and encourage walkable neighborhoods. However, some projects have had success in specific cases, such as a hotel being considered as a basic service for an office space with frequent contractors visiting. A CIRCredit Interpretation Ruling. Used by design team members experiencing difficulties in the application of a LEED prerequisite or credit to a project. Typically, difficulties arise when specific issues are not directly addressed by LEED information/guide is probably needed to get approval for special cases like this.
Also, to reduce confusion during a review while maintaining honesty, be careful to label your services to be consistent with the credit language list. For example, a "nail/hair salon/barber shop" should be categorized as a "beauty salon." If a gas station contains a full-service, stand-alone convenience grocery store (e.g. 7-Eleven) and credit is sought for grocery store use, label it as "convenience grocery" rather than a "gas station."
Maybe. Language in the Reference Guide is not crystal clear on this point, and some comments from project teams indicate that campus projects should demonstrate that services are open to the public. For LEED documentation purposes, LEEDuser recommends avoiding relying on such services, or seeing a CIR to be sure of your approach.
LEEDuser has seen reports of review comments questioning the inclusion of services on a military base or other installation that are not open to the general public, even if they are open to anyone within the radius. On the other hand, one project team reported success with a military base where access to the base was restricted to the public, and services on the base were open to anyone on the base.
The SSc2 Option 2 residential requirements for NCv2.2 and NC 2009 are for projects to locate in an area within one-half mile of an existing, not planned, residential district featuring a density of at least 10 units/acre. Projects should not depend upon planned residential areas for credit compliance, as this does not represent existing infrastructure in most cases. Projects not meeting these requirements but believing they meet the credit intent will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must submit a project-specific CIR to determine their compliance potential.
All projects use the building site area for the density radius calculation.
Many projects have had questions about the definition of previously developed. Note that LEED 2009 projects have had the relevant definition updated by USGBC through a November 2011 addendum. Be sure to reference that definition, which is more specific, if it is applicable to your project.
Is your site “previously developed”? This credit is available only for projects on previously developed sites—those that have been graded or modified by human activity.
Determine early on which of the two compliance paths is most feasible for your project. This will be determined by your project location. For projects that have the choice, Option 2 may be easier to document, although both options require developing a site plan and documenting the existing conditions of the surrounding area.
It can be easier to earn this credit in a dense urban environment, but an average two-story downtown can also comply. Photo – YRG SustainabilityTypically, the requisite neighborhood density for Option 1 of 60,000 ft2 per acre can be met by two-story downtown development, or a denser area. The requirements for Option 2 can typically be met in a variety of settings, from dense urban areas to rural small towns with some density of services.
You can earn an Exemplary Performance point through this credit, but only through Option 1: Development Density. If you have some choice of which option to pursue, and the extra point is important, go for Option 1.
Weigh the pros and cons of locating a project in a dense urban area, as there may be trade-offs involved. For example, air quality and open space are two variables that could be compromised by locating a project in a dense urban area. However, LEED is generally oriented toward rewarding projects that locate in urban areas, particularly through SSc4.1 and other SS credits.
Careful site selection is crucial for obtaining this credit. Projects located in dense urban areas will qualify more easily, whereas projects located in rural or suburban areas, where densities are lower and development more spread out, may find this credit unattainable.
Choosing to build a school in an urban area provides many opportunities for students and staff to be part of the urban fabric and have access to community services. Among other credits, this could make it easier to earn SSc10: Joint Use of Facilities.
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.
Physical education spaces such as playing fields can be excluded from development density calculations.
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, and is part of the prerequisite SSp2.
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 half-mile radius can be drawn from any building entrance on the site map.
Documenting this option is easier than documenting Option 1, as there is little data collection involved, and usually no calculations to perform (unless there is no other documentation available and you have to calculate the housing density to make sure it is at least 10 units per acre).
There may be costs associated with developing a site in an urban setting (due to aspects such as site constraints and brownfield remediation), although there can also be savings due to reduced need to install infrastructure.
Building within an existing urban fabric adds significant benefits for users, including lower transportation costs and healthier lifestyle. Employers may find that this helps attract and retain personnel.
To check your project’s eligibility to pursue this option, draw a circle with a one-half-mile radius centered on your project’s main entrance. If there is a qualifying residential development, and at least ten basic services, within the circle, your project is eligible to pursue this path.
There must be pedestrian access to the basic services. Pedestrians cannot be blocked by walls, highways or other permanent barriers.
To find the density of residential buildings near your project, check with sources like planning departments, or property management companies on a building by building basis.
At least eight of the ten required services must be operational at the time of project completion. For services that are nonexistent but proposed (up to two of the ten required services), the project team must demonstrate that they will be up and running within one year of occupancy. This can be documented by signed lease agreements or a letter from the developer or owner stating the scheduled opening of the service
Access to services can attract more building occupants and improve occupant satisfaction with any project type—resulting in better financials and productivity.
Complete density or community connectivity calculations relevant to Options 1 or 2 below.
These tasks could be completed in schematic design, design development or at 100% CDs. What is critical is to have the project square footage and site area set prior to performing final calculations.
Your project area must be defined consistently throughout all LEED credits (per the project description). Make sure this is the case, especially if your project is part of a larger development, such as a campus.
Check that your project can comply, using these three steps:
The calculator within LEED Online computes the density radius as well as the average density by summing up the building square footages and the site areas in acres.
Confirm that the average density of your project is at least 60,000 ft2 per acre.
Per CIR 9/22/06, you can document Exemplary Performance as part of IDc1 through Option 1: Development Density using one of the following methods:
Use online mapping resources such as Google Earth to draw a one-half mile radius from the project building entrance. Your project must be within one-half mile of a residential development with a density of at least ten units per acre, net, as well as within one-half mile of ten basic services.
For projects with more than one main entrance or more than one building, you may draw a circle from more than one entrance. The area contained within the circles drawn from all these radii is then used as your project’s radius.
Identify at least one residential development that meets the requirement within the defined boundary. (This could be one apartment building containing ten units.)
If you determine that your project is eligible for this credit option, develop a list of all the services within that half-mile radius (or several half-mile radii), and their distance from the project site.
All the services must be accessible by foot via an uninterrupted, safe path stretching from the designated entrance to the service location. The path cannot cross a highway, for example, unless there is a pedestrian pathway.
For onsite services or those within a half-mile, you can count up to two restaurants in the list of ten community services, but no other service can be counted twice. For example, if there are three restaurants, two hair salons, and four dry cleaners within your radius, you can count two restaurants, one salon and one dry cleaner.
If any of the ten services are nonexistent but planned, you must obtain written documentation that these services will be operational by the time the occupants move into your building. Appropriate documentation includes a lease agreement or a letter from the owner or other responsible party. Only two unbuilt but planned services can be counted in your credit documentation.
Websites like Walkscore and Google Maps can provide locations of services and walking access from a given address. (See Resources.) Note, however, that resources like these contain limitations that may not match up with LEED requirements (Walkscore, for example, assumes that you can walk across water, if that's the most direct route.) Use them as a starting point to identify services and approximate distances, but be sure to make adjustments as needed.
Check that no changes are made to the design that might hurt your chances of earning the credit.
If your project site is located in a dense urban area where pollution is a concern, design your building to minimize potential air quality problems. Place outdoor air intakes away from sources of pollution as much as possible. Consider acoustics and other issues that might be associated with urban environments.
Complete the LEED Online credit form and prepare the following documents to show credit compliance, according to your chosen option. The LEED Reference Guide also offers good process guidance and sample documentation for this credit.
For both options, a licensed professional (PE, RA, or RLA) can sign off on the credit in lieu of entering all the calculations. The professional whose license is on the line will likely want to confirm all the calculations anyway, and the credit form offers a good way to do that.
Provide a site-vicinity map, to scale, showing the project site and the one-half mile boundary from the project’s main entrance. Highlight the residential development and ten services within the boundary.
Compile a list of all buildings that are within or are intersected by your density boundary, with square footages and site areas for each property. Highlight the results of your calculations and confirm that your project meets the credit requirement.
Demonstrate through an online tool, picture, or site plan that ten services are accessible by foot from the project site.
Compile a list of services for easy review, and confirm that the credit requirement is met.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations
To channel development to urban areas with existing infrastructure, protect greenfields and preserve habitat and natural resources.
Construct or renovate a building on a previously developedPreviously developed sites are those altered by paving, construction, and/or land use that would typically have required regulatory permitting to have been initiated (alterations may exist now or in the past). Previously developed land includes a platted lot on which a building was constructed if the lot is no more than 1 acre; previous development on lots larger than 1 acre is defined as the development footprint and land alterations associated with the footprint. Land that is not previously developed and altered landscapes resulting from current or historical clearing or filling, agricultural or forestry use, or preserved natural area use are considered undeveloped land. The date of previous development permit issuance constitutes the date of previous development, but permit issuance in itself does not constitute previous development." site AND in a community with a minimum density of 60,000 square feet per acre net (13,800 square meters per hectare net). The density calculation is based on a typical two-story downtown development and must include the area of the project being built.
For the purposes of this option, physical education spaces that are part of the project site, such as playing fields and associated buildings used during sporting events only (e.g., concession stands) and playgrounds with play equipment, are excluded from the development density calculations.
Construct or renovate a building on a site that meets the following criteria:
For mixed-use projects, no more than 1 service within the project boundary may be counted as 1 of the 10 basic services, provided it is open to the public. No more than 2 of the 10 services required may be anticipated (i.e. at least 8 must be existing and operational). In addition, the anticipated services must demonstrate that they will be operational in the locations indicated within 1 year of occupation of the applicant project. Examples of basic services include the following:
Proximity is determined by drawing a 1/2-mile radius around any building entrance on a site map and counting the services within that radius.
During the site selection process, give preference to urban sites with pedestrian access to a variety of services.
For locating community services on a map in relation to project site.
For building information in the City of New York; useful for calculating density and identifying residential developments.
Great resource for creating site maps and measuring distances.
This online tools provides “as-the-crow-flies” distance to typical standard services from a given address, so it is most helpful to identify the location of basic services that are in close proximity, but shouldn’t be used to document walking distances.
Compile a list of qualifying community services and residential neighborhoods, and their proximity to your project using a template like this one (with example shown).
Use a narrative like the one illustrated in this example to demonstrate compliance with this option. This sample narrative provides sample language for planned community services, in addition to existing ones.
The following links take you to the public, informational versions of the dynamic LEED Online forms for each Schools-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."
Documentation for this credit can be part of a Design Phase submittal.
Calculations like these are needed to demonstrate the required development density for your site.
Use a narrative like this to discuss use of services that are planned but not built to meet Option 2. As many as two of 10 services may be planned.
Use this spreadsheet to check your compiance with this credit, including Exemplary PerformanceIn LEED, certain credits have established thresholds beyond basic credit achievement. Meeting these thresholds can earn additional points through Innovation in Design (ID) or Innovation in Operations (IO) points. As a general rule of thumb, ID credits for exemplary performance are awarded for doubling the credit requirements and/or achieving the next incremental percentage threshold. However, this rule varies on a case by case basis, so check the credit requirements. compliance, and generate a map for documenting compliance in LEED Online.
The LEED Reference Guide, in the example calculation for development density, indicates the project building and site must have a 60k sq ft density per acre or more. However, the LEED online form awards points even if the project density on its own is less than 60k. Also, on the first page of the credit in the Reference Guide, under the Requirements section (Option 1) there is no mention that the project in isolation must achieve the 60k density.
We are not clear on this point. Is the project building and site, in isolation, required to meet the minimum density requirement?
Yes both. 60,000 s.f. per acre. Which version of LEED are you using? If the form is indeed incorrect, and that is entirely possible, Use the LOL Feedback button.
Our school project is located to plenty of basic services in the "downtown" area of a rural community. But, I'm wondering if there is any specific definition of "residential area or neighborhood." There are several areas within the 1/2 mile radius that have large apartment / condo complexes but not sure if that is defined as a neighborhood?
Also, for a service to count, it's actual front door has to be within a 1/2 mile of the school's front door, is that correct? Can it be any entrance?
Kimberly, a neighborhood could be as simple as a condo building or a cluster of homes.
For your second question, yes, and yes, as long as it's a regular public entrance.
The Guide list of specific basic services cites Medical OR Dental office. Should this be interpreted that Dental can't be counted as a separate service from Medical? They're always separate services in our region.
If a Beauty Salon or other service is located within an indoor shopping mall, could the 1/2 mile distance be taken from a mall entrance, or must it extend to the actual store entrance?
Would 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 be required to receive approval of a proposed basic service that's not on this list?
I can speak to your last question about the 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 by referring you to this thread in the NC SSc2 forum, which I think sums things up well.
My gut would be that you cannot count both medical and dental, and that you would have to go to the store entrance, but I'd love to hear from others with more experience.
Step-by-step instructions for graphically documenting compliance with Options 1 or 2.
Sustainable Design Coordinator
Previously developed urban areas can have an easier time with the SSc1 requirements, while reducing the disruption of undeveloped land.
Projects in dense urban areas are more likely to have access to mass transit.
Projects earning SSc2 may include a green roof as part of the SSc5.1 calculations.
Projects earning SSc2 may include a green roof and pedestrian-oriented hardscape as part of the SSc5.2 calculation.
Do you know which LEED credits have the most LEED Interpretations and addenda, and which have none? The Missing Manual does. Check here first to see where you need to update yourself, and share the link with your team.
LEEDuser members get it free >
LEEDuser is produced by BuildingGreen, Inc., with YR&G authoring most of the original content. LEEDuser enjoys ongoing collaboration with USGBC. Read more about our team
Copyright 2013 – BuildingGreen, Inc.