Documenting LEED SS Credit 5.2 for Open Space

Drawing prepared by Kleingers & Associates

One of the (few) LEED benefits of most of our projects being in rural areas is that most of them are on large enough sites to take advantage of Sustainable Sites credit 5.2, Site Development: Maximize Open Space. This credit is relatively pretty easy to document, but there are a few things we always keep in mind as we are preparing our documentation:

  1. Clearly identify the LEED Boundary for the project so you know how much total area to account for in your open space calculation. Make sure to clearly mark this boundary on your open space drawing for the GBCI reviewers! See drawing to the right for an example.
  2. Once you figure out how much area is within your boundary, identify how much area qualifies as “open space”. To meet the open space definition the are must be essentially be unbuilt and vegetated. Projects meeting SS credit 2 for Development Density and Community Connectivity, however, can also count green roof areas and even some pedestrian oriented plazas.
  3. For this credit any type of vegetation, native or adapted or not, will work. We have a lot of playing fields in our school projects and as long as these fields are real grass not plastic turf, they count toward this credit. If we include playing fields as open space, we make sure to indicate on the credit template that they are vegetated and not artificial turf.
  4. Vegetated retention and detention ponds can also contribute to this credit as long as their side slopes are 1:4 or less. If detention/retention areas are included as open space, we always clearly indicate on the LEED template for the credit that the side slopes are 1:4 or less.
  5. Once you are clear about what you can and cannot count as open space it’s important to prepare a clear, concise drawing indicating what you have counted as open space and what you have not counted. One such drawing is show in this post. I like to simply color in the area that we have counted as open space because it reads very clearly. In this drawing you will see that all building and hardscape areas are left white meaning they have not been counted as open space as well as a n area on the upper left side of the plan which, in this case, represents a retaining pond that has side slopes steeper than 4:1 so it has not been included as open space.
  6. Finally, make sure to thoroughly and accurately fill out the LEED template or form for this credit. For an example of how we fill out this template click here (LEED for Schools 2007 template shown- other versions are similar).

The sample documentation for this post was prepared by Kleingers & Associates, an Ohio based civil engineering and surveying firm that we work with on a regular basis click here for more information on their services.


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