The intent of this credit is to reduce the development pressure on undeveloped land by encouraging development of land that has access to existing infrastructure and services.
This credit is straightforward. You can earn it if your site has been designated a brownfieldAbandoned, idled, or under used industrial and commercial facilities/sites who expansion, redevelopment, or reuse is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination (may include hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants). They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. EPA's Brownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic vitality of such areas or properties. (EPA) by a state, local or federal agency and if the site is remediated to meet appropriate standards for development.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines “brownfields” as “abandoned, idled, or under-used industrial and commercial facilities where expansion or redevelopment is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination.”
Your documentation needs to include brownfield designation, records of testing conducted on the site, and records of the remediation performed.
Asbestos and other non-soil contamination in an existing structure may also qualify for brownfield redevelopment, per 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. 5/9/2011 ID#10001. An asbestos plan should be developed by a qualified environmental professional and documented according to EPA and state regulations.
Having lead paint on walls in the building is not a sufficient threshold to earn this credit. The physical site must have been contaminated and need remediation in some way in order to earn the credit.
A degraded brownfield site and erosion-prone streambed were restored into an ecologically productive wetland at the Real Goods Solar Living Center. Photo – Alex Wilson
Brownfield projects remediate damaged land, creating clean, highly developable properties, often with good access to utility and public infrastructure. Focusing development on brownfields restores vacant lands, reconnecting communities ravaged by industrial waste and abandonment.
In addition, techniques for remediating brownfields may restore water quality and wildlife habitat on marginal sites—many brownfields are located along urban waterways in need 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.. Brownfield development can often take advantage of creative financing packages offered by state and local governments that aim to focus economic activity in depressed or abandoned areas.
You can occasionally earn this credit even if no actual remediation is performed, because brownfields are often designated as such simply because of the perception that contamination is present due to a site’s history of use, abandoned or derelict condition, adjacent industrial sites. If investigation finds that contamination is not present despite the brownfield determination, you can still earn the credit.
If a site’s owner uncovers information that leads to the site being classified as a brownfield in need of remediation, then the owner will need to perform the remediation in order to qualify for the credit. This will require detailed site investigation to understand the nature of contamination and the steps needed for remediation.
Given the effort, expense, and risk involved in many brownfield projects, one LEED point is probably not a worthy reward. It would probably be more useful to think of this credit as a token, and to acknowledge that developers aren't likely to choose a brownfield site to earn this point. There is a silver lining, however, in that urban infill sites, which are often brownfields, are typically well-rewarded in LEED's density-related credits.
Yes, an environmental professional will need to verify that contamination is located on the site using the specified standards for testing and verification. This helps identify the scope of contamination and thus the scope of remediation that will be required.
No. If the remediation occurred prior to when the property was purchased, you are no longer developing a contaminated site. SSc3 addresses sites that are subject to corrective action; it doesn't address the past history of the site.
Brownfield requirements are determined at the federal, state, or local level and vary from one jurisdiction to another. For LEED, there are no minimum thresholds (volume or area) required to meet this credit as long as the site—or a portion of it—is classified as a brownfield.
Yes, a project team may earn the credit even when remediation is not complete provided there is an approved ongoing remediation plan in place and the applicable regulatory authority has approved the site for its intended use.
Determine whether your project site has been designated a brownfield by local, state, or federal standards, or has been documented as contaminated through an ASTM-E-1903-97, Phase II, Environmental Site Assessment (ESA) or local voluntary cleanup program.
If you have reason to believe that your project site is contaminated, but it has not yet been designated Petco Park in San Diego is the centerpiece of a 26-block brownfield redevelopment project in which the City acquired properties through eminent domain. Photo – SCS Engineersas such by a local, state, or federal agency, hire a qualified environmental consultant, engineer, or hazardous materials remediation professional to conduct an ASTM-E-1903-97, Phase II, ESA to determine the degree of contamination and whether remediation is required.
A Phase II ESA involves a detailed look at the site. The environmental professional takes samples and tests for contaminants on the grounds and within existing structures. High concentrations of heavy metals, toxic chemicals, or asbestos may require remediation. Petroleum byproducts, pesticides, solvents, and mold may also lead to remediation, depending on the specific chemicals and concentrations.
Research liability issues, financial obligations and incentives, community interest, remediation options, and regulatory requirements. You’ll need to consult with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies to determine much of the information.
It’s important to have the support of the community when remediating a brownfield. Consider holding an open meeting to educate members of the community about the actual and perceived risks of remediating a brownfield, especially in terms of impacts on groundwater and the potential risks associated with the disruption of contaminated soils.
If remediation is required, seek out qualified environmental firms to provide bids to perform the work.
Once hired, this firm will document the process and demonstrate the removal of identified contaminants to meet the appropriate thresholds and credit requirements.
Determine the best strategy for your site, contamination type, and degree of concentrations in collaboration with your environmental professional. Set a timeline within which to determine any impact on your construction schedule. (See Schematic Design, below, for more detail on common remediation options.)
If you’re approaching this credit from the perspective of SSp2: Enviornmental Site Assessment and have already remediated a site to meet the requirements of a Phase II ESA for that prerequisite, this credit is automatic. The documentation is the same as is required for this credit.
Invite several companies to bid on the creation and implementation of a master plan for site remediation. This strategy enables comparison of remediation techniques and costs. Try to contract with an environmental firm early in the project.
Cleaning up contaminated sites to appropriate standards for development can be costly due to the time required to determine the level of contamination, analyze various cleanup options, and carry out the remediation.
Work with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies to research available funding for the remediation of your contaminated project site.
International projects can still achieve this credit even if the local government agency has not designated it as a brownfield by pursuing the Option 1 compliance path by conducting your own ASTM E1903-97 Phase II Environmental Site Assessment.
If your project building was built prior to the late 1970s, there may be some form of asbestos present in piping insulation, siding, or other materials. If you are undergoing major renovations, it’s likely that some asbestos will need to be removed from the building or remediated. However, not all types need to be remediated. To determine whether you will need to remediate asbestos on your project site, hire a qualified environmental professional to inventory asbestos and document it according to EPA Reg. 40-CFR-763 or similar state or local standard, whichever is most stringent.
Make sure your environmental professional provides a summary of the asbestos inventory and a plan for its remediation. The plan must document the type, amount, and location of the contamination, and create a remediation plan following EPA Reg. 40-CFR-763 and the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) program. This will serve as your documentation for this credit.
Hire a qualified environmental engineer or professional to manage the remediation effort according to the master remediation plan.
Each contaminated site requires different remediation efforts. The remediation technique you use should be based on the type, extent, and concentration of contamination, as well as the risk level. Some examples of remediation techniques are:
Depending on the extent and type of remediation required, it is possible that some site features may be affected. For example, it may be less expensive to cap contaminated soils with concrete, leaving no room for landscaping or stormwater infiltration. This can have an effect on other site credits your project is attempting, such as SSc5.1: Protect or Restore Habitat and SSc6.1 and SSc6.2: Stormwater Management.
After remediation is completed, your environmental professional should write a letter stating that the site cleanup has been conducted to local, state, or federal standards. This letter should describe the actual remediation steps in detail.
Remediate asbestos according to accepted standards, such as NESHAP or comparable state regulations.
Prepare the documentation for submission to LEED Online. Documents should include:
Prepare documentation for submission to LEED Online. These documents should include:
Prior to issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy, ensure that all remediation efforts have been completed, properly documented, and submitted to the proper authorities.
Verify any ongoing requirements with your regulating agency, as some state and local agencies require a contaminated and remediated site to be retested or monitored on an ongoing basis.
If required by the remediation plan, monitor the levels of identified chemicals onsite after the remediation is complete to ensure that contamination remains below the maximum thresholds.
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Schools New Construction and Major Renovations
To rehabilitate damaged sites where development is complicated by environmental contamination and to reduce pressure on undeveloped land.
Projects can achieve this point only via SS Prerequisite 2: Environmental Site Assessment and remediating site contamination.
Identify tax incentives and property cost savings. Coordinate site development plans with remediation activity, as appropriate.
For projects where asbestos is found, prepare executive summary—level content from the investigation’s report explaining the extent of the contamination and required action as well as documentation indicating an acceptable level of remediation was achieved based on an acceptable standard, such as RCRAThe Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) addresses active and future facilities and was enacted in 1976 to give EPA authority to control hazardous wastes from cradle to grave, including generation, transportation, treatment, storage, and disposal. Some nonhazardous wastes are also covered under RCRA., or NESHAPs.
This is a comprehensive website on brownfields that includes projects, initiatives, tools, tax incentives and other resources to address brownfield remediation and redevelopment. For information by phone, contact your regional EPA office.
This EPA website provides laws and federal regulations relevant to asbestos.
This website provides information on the health effects of asbestos, where it is commonly found, and the laws and regulations governing testing of sites containing asbestos.
This link outlines the Asbestos Remediation guidelines.
This organization offers options for brownfieldAbandoned, idled, or under used industrial and commercial facilities/sites who expansion, redevelopment, or reuse is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination (may include hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants). They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. EPA's Brownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic vitality of such areas or properties. (EPA) refinancing.
The Environmental Law Institute’s Brownfields Center provides information on brownfields cleanup and redevelopment with a focus on the concerns and needs of community groups across the country.
This document defines good commercial and customary practice in the United States of America for conducting an environmental site assessment of a parcel of commercial real estate with respect to the range of contaminants within the scope of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
This document is intended for use on a voluntary basis by parties who wish to evaluate known releases or likely release areas identified by the user or Phase II assessor.
This website provides information on the health effets of asbestos, where it is commonly found, and the laws and regulations governing testing of sites containing asbestos.
This is a 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. Ruling that spells out the requirements to use asbestos remediation as an alternative compliance path for this credit.
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.
This is a sample narrative for a project in NYC that is showing that the local regulation for asbestos removal is an acceptable standard.
We will be building a new school along side an existing school as a replacement. When the new school is complete, the existing school will be demolished entirely to provide space for the playgrounds and playfield. The existing school has asbestos contamination and will have to be remediated prior to demolition. Will this still qualify for the credit?
Joseph, the discovery and proper documentation of asbestos qualifies the site as a BrownfieldAbandoned, idled, or under used industrial and commercial facilities/sites who expansion, redevelopment, or reuse is complicated by real or perceived environmental contamination (may include hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants). They can be in urban, suburban, or rural areas. EPA's Brownfields initiative helps communities mitigate potential health risks and restore the economic vitality of such areas or properties. (EPA) . However, credit for SSc3 Schools is awarded only if SSp2 can be achieved. If an ESA has been conducted per SSp2 and all contamination has been identified and a remediation plan provided by an environmental engineer, your project would qualify for SSc3. The engineer should provide an Executive Summary that specifically addresses the control of emissions from asbestos abatement with the packaging, transport, and disposal of accumulated waste. I would recommend all of the asbestos containing material be removed utilizing a certified asbestos abatement contractor prior to the demolition of the existing building.
If the Phase 2 Environmental Assessment identifies only part of the school property as contaminated and to be remediated, will the completed partial site remediation be enough to achieve the point? In other words, can less than the entire site be remediated and still earn a point? (is there a minimum site area that must be remediated?)
Donald, yes, there is not a requirement that 100% (or any other %) of the site be physically contaminated in order to earn this credit.
If the achievement of SSp2 involves remediation as a result of a Phase II ESA, and that remediation is completed to the required standard, the project would be eligible for SSc3.
Many brownfields are located in dense urban areas likely to qualify for SSc2.
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