Please note that the following credits being discussed apply to various types of buildings, new or renovated, and the strategy toward meeting the credits expectations will depend on the building, but regardless, the intent of the credits do not change.
The first section of the LEED Reference Guide which can be purchased from the USGBC, and also the first step in building green is sustainable site selection and control. This section is composed of fourteen possible points, but in order to even attempt this credit, your building must first meet a prerequisite: to reduce pollution caused by the construction site. This expectation is achieved by drafting and following an ESC (Erosion / Sedimentation Control) Plan. Basically, preventing air pollution caused by dust, preventing loss of soil, and preventing sedimentation from storms, sewers, or streams. Conforming to the ESC Plan will be a requirement throughout the construction process and will ultimately contribute to the sustainability of your building.
While Sustainable Sites, like all the categories of LEED, is made up of different credits, the overall intent of the section is to reduce the environmental impact from the location of the building. A sustainable site criteria includes one or more of the following:
- Developing in urban areas, close to public transportation and amenities
- Avoiding development of inappropriate sites, such as greenfields (areas that have not been build upon)
- Rehabilitating damaged sites
- Reducing pollution from construction activity
- Conserving and restoring natural habitats
- Managing storm water runoff
- Reducing the impact of auto use, and
- Reducing heat island effects.
Most of the efforts of the sustainable sites are constructed in the design phase of LEED certification, but in order to meet the intent of the requirement, a strategy to address it must be implemented throughout the construction process.
Building a sustainable site can have a major impact on our eco-system, therefore meeting as many of these credit requirements as possible is essential. Depending on your building, some of these credits may not apply, but all are important to consider during the LEED process and application. Strategy, implementation, and code compliance for each credit can be outlined in great detail by visiting USGBC and by referencing the LEED Reference Guide.