Determining Farmland or Floodplain Classification for SSc1

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Farmland or floodplain?

The following steps can be used to document whether your LEED project site is classified as farmland or as floodplain relative to the requirements for SSc1 in NC v2.2, NC v2009, CS, and Schools rating systems.

Steps to determine if a site is prime farmland

The following steps work for U.S. land included in the USDA soil survey database.

1.) Go to http://websoilsurvey.nrcs.usda.gov/  Click the green "Start WSS" button to run the application

2.) Go to the "Quick Navigation" bar and then the "Navigate By" bar

3.) Enter the project address or other known data; OR Use the zoom tool to find the project site

4.) Once the project site is in the viewer, click on the AOI (Area of Interest) button either the rectangle  or polygon  depending on the shape of the project site.

5.) Delineate the site with the tool and double click to finish.

6.) From the tabs on top of the page, choose soil data exploration.

7.) Under the "Suitabilities and limitations" bar on the left, expand the "Land Classifications" bar.

8.) Choose the "Farmland Classification" bar and then under "View Options" make sure at least the Map and Table boxes are checked.

9.) Click on the "view rating" button.

10.) If you need a printed copy, click on the Printable Version, title as appropriate and print as a PDF. Alternately, use the shopping cart process to have a free PDF delivered to email.

Steps to determine if a site is on a floodplain

If your project data is available on the FEMA website, it is relatively easy to determine if it is in or adjacent to the flood zone. If the project is close, detailed topographical mapping is unavailable so referring to civil drawings in combination with the flood maps may determine whether any part of the site is within five feet of the 100-year floodplain. If there is no data available from FEMA, local municipalities often have good data and many have electronic mapping applications which may be superior to the FEMA website. 

Instructions for Obtaining Flood Plain Information from the FEMA Viewer

1.) Go to https://hazards.fema.gov/femaportal/wps/portal/

2.) To determine data availability, enter your state in the green box on the upper left and click on the button “create map” to see what data is available state wide before entering the specific address; it is not always obvious at the closer resolution what data is available.

3.) If your project is located in one of the purple areas (DFIRM data availability) there should be good data available. At that point you can either enter the project address or zoom in closer to find the site.

4.) Once zoomed to the project area, make sure the Flood Hazard Zones and the Base Flood Elevation layer boxes are checked along with any other layers of interest.

5.) Any 100 yr flood zones will be an A zone, possibly with a descriptor letter following the A for the specific type of zone. The Base Flood Elevations are the highest elevations on the edge of the flood zones, so if your project is 5 ft or higher above that elevation it is sufficiently out of the flood zone to comply with the credit.

6.) To print, screenshots are effective or for a custom map click on the print icon under the file heading.

 

 

17 Comments

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Saud Abdul Rasheed LEED Engineer Al Yamama Company
Mar 09 2014
LEEDuser Member
166 Thumbs Up

SSc1 documents for International Projects

What if such documents cannot be obtained for international projects. Moreover what if there is no local equivalent in the real meaning as well? Can the point for SSc1 be still achieved?

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John Beeson Chief Mystic in Resident Catalyst Partners
Mar 05 2014
LEEDuser Member
1280 Thumbs Up

Updates to the "Instructions for Obtaining Flood Plain Info…"?

Are there any updates to these instructions for seeking flood plain information? The FEMA link doesn't have the noted green box for entering a state location.

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Colin Day Sustainable Building Associate, LEED GA The Institute for the Built Environment
Jan 16 2013
LEEDuser Member
137 Thumbs Up

"Prime Farmland, If Irrigated"?

Hello,

I am trying to determine if I would be able to a project claim this credit for a project my office is working on. The project is located 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." urban site, has aridic soils, and is composed of Avondale Clay Loam. The USDA lists this soil under "Prime Farmland, If Irrigated". Any advice? Thanks is advace!

Colin Day
Institute for the Built Environment

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Jan 16 2013 LEEDuser Moderator

Colin, the by-the-book answer would be no. However, there is a clear case to be made to waive this requirement here. I think you would need to get 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 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. to know one way or the other.

If you proceed with this and get any guidance from GBCI, let us know!

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Katherine Carlin Apr 30 2013 LEEDuser Member 192 Thumbs Up

I have a similar issue. Colin, did you get an answer without having 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? Thanks.

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Colin Day Sustainable Building Associate, LEED GA, The Institute for the Built Environment Apr 30 2013 LEEDuser Member 137 Thumbs Up

Katherine,

The project in question is on hold ad infinitum, so I never had to pursue a clear response to this inquiry. My feeling is that if the project is on 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." land in an urban core, as this one is, it is probably not an issue If you come to some conclusion, please let me know!

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

Another idea is to speak with a USDA official and get some clarification or a different ruling on their letterhead.

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Ara Massey Sustainable Design Manager, SLATERPAULL Architects Jan 29 2014 LEEDuser Member 219 Thumbs Up

Per the Code of Federal regulations definition cited in the credit requirements prime farmland would have to be available for use as farmland and not available for build-up land:
"Prime farmland is land that has the best combination of physical and chemical characteristics for producing food, feed, forage, fiber, and oilseed crops, and is also available for these uses (the land could be cropland, pastureland, rangeland, forest land, or other land, but not urban built-up land or water)"
http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=cc8915a4be7787633f66cadcd7776c1...
Perhaps I am mistaken but it would seem that this would mean 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 would not meet the definition of prime farmland?

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Megan Hostrander
Dec 12 2012
Guest
82 Thumbs Up

I followed the steps above to

I followed the steps above to determine if the site is prime farmland. It appears that about 30% of the site falls into the "Prime Farmland" category. The other 70% is "Farmland of statewide importance" or "Not Prime Farmland."

Do we still have a change to get this credit or does the 30% of Prime Farmland prevent our site from achieving this credit?

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Dec 12 2012 LEEDuser Moderator

Megan, I'd suggest checking the SSc1 credit language. Note the "portions of the site" caveat.

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Gaston Viau GEBCO Green Solutions
Dec 03 2012
LEEDuser Member
336 Thumbs Up

Farmland of statewide importance

Hi everyone,

Our project is located into a LEED Neighborhood Development which obtained Stage 1 certification. The Neighborhood Project is going to be developed in phases and this building is the first of 26 buildings to be built.

I have done the full procedure through USDA website to determine if the site is Prime Farmland. The site is located on the west side of Santa Cruz, CA, and the analysis result is: "Farmland of statewide importance".

Just to make sure of this, I did the same procedure in a residencial site nearby (outside the LEED ND area). That place is a completely developed site, full of residential houses, and the result was the same: "Farmland of statewide importance".

It seems like the whole area is Prime Farmland according to the USDA, no matter if there are buildings or not. Is this correct?

In accordance to this procedure I can't claim for SSc1 credit right?

Thanks in advance for your help!

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Susann Geithner Global Sustainability Manager, Predictive Service Dec 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 11071 Thumbs Up

That's correct. You can't claim the credit, if you build on Prime Farmland regardless if it was 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." or not. Sorry

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Gaston Viau GEBCO Green Solutions Dec 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 336 Thumbs Up

Dear Susann, I think I miss-formulated my question, I will try again.

We are not building in Prime Farmland, but in "Farmland of Statewide Importance".

Does "Farmland of statewide importance" account as "prime farmland"?

Thanks again!

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Susann Geithner Global Sustainability Manager, Predictive Service Dec 07 2012 LEEDuser Member 11071 Thumbs Up

My bad. I should have paid more attention to your question.

Prime Farmland and Farmland of Statewide importance are not the same. Find the definition here http://1.usa.gov/UKzf0t
So you are good to go.

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Jeremy Poling Senior Consultant Goby
Jun 01 2011
Guest
274 Thumbs Up

International Soil Surveys or Flood Plain Maps

Does anyone have familiarity with international sources for the same data noted above? I am not thinking of any country in specific, but it would in general be beneficial to have a listing of non-US sources.

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Tristan Roberts LEED AP BD+C, Editorial Director – LEEDuser, BuildingGreen, Inc. Sep 02 2011 LEEDuser Moderator

Jeremy, this info is tough to find. Maybe some folks out there on the forum can make specific notes about countries they have been working in.

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Susann Geithner Global Sustainability Manager, Predictive Service Dec 05 2012 LEEDuser Member 11071 Thumbs Up

A lot of European countries have federal agencies, which deal with this data and can answer that questions. In Germany it's the water agency (Wasserbehoerde) of each state and the Environmental Agency (Umweltamt). But sometimes it's quicker to ask the local university in a related faculty to help finding that information.

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