Recently I’ve been studying for LEED Green Associate exam and the word “density” has been hanging in my mind, this is because “density” this word throughout the whole book. The very beginning of a project is ‘Location and Transportation’. This is a new category that was added to the LEED rating system. This category put more emphasis and attention on reducing one of the main contributors to global warming: transportation. It is clarified through the ideas of reducing the cost, pollution, and depletion of resources related to the daily transportation of people and goods to and from a destination. After reading Veronica’s post last week, it got me thinking about sustainability and how it applies to our daily lives, especially in choosing where to live. I think that LEED principles can be applied to a housing search.
The book divided Location and Transportation (LT) category into 4 points: Location, Transportation, Site Development, and Health and Livability. These points are often similar to what people consider when looking for a house or place to live.
Locate within a LEED-Certified Neighborhood Development
A LEED-Certified Neighborhood usually is a sustainable site. This is because the neighborhood has to meet the qualification of LEED requirements such as walkability, green infrastructure, floodplain avoidance, etc.
Located within proximity of surrounding density and diverse uses
“Density” is an important word in LEED. The reason behind this is to cut the distance shorter for people to travel to work or visit the building. Also, if the building is within walking distance (0.5 mile), people will not need to drive. Both ways would cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and will help reduce global warming.
Limit available parking
LEED-Certified buildings usually have limited parking, because this can encourage people to carpool or use alternative ways of travel.
Develop in areas that have multimodal transportation access
This could also inspire people to take public transportation modes like bus or rail.
(This point is more for a someone building a home and their location selection)
Avoid developing on environmentally-sensitive land
This is for the sustainability environment. Considering the local bioregion, watershed, and community can help a project team minimize the sustainable features of the surrounding environment and to climate change. In LT category, sensitive land defines as farmland, floodplains, threatened or endangered species habitats, water bodies, and wetlands.
Locate the project on a pre-developed site
It would be an ideal area, because of the preexisting infrastructure is already in place. Pre-developed location can reduce the cost of installing new roads, sewer, and power lines.
Locate the project on a high-priority site such as a brownfield
A brownfield is a property that has the presence of hazardous materials, pollutants, or contaminant that may affect by redevelopment if the property. Remediation and development of brownfield can avoid land waste and reduce urban sprawl.
Health and livability
Develop in areas that promote walkability
Sidewalk and shelter for pedestrians should be provided, these make it easy for people to walk to and from the building for basic needs and routine functions.
Provide bicycle storage facilities, shower room, and bicycle networks in close proximity to diverse uses
This encourages the use of non-motorized modes of transportation.
Provide a bicycle maintenance program for employees or bicycle route assistance for employees and customers.
This could encourage people to ride bikes, walk, or run errands during the day. This can also decrease greenhouse emission caused by vehicle use and increase the health and welfare if building occupants.
Other factors recommended that contribute to this field that speak to “density” are the following:
Provide pedestrian amenities
Create a diverse community
Promote access to sustainable food
Provide access to grocery stores.
All of these factors would reduce a number of people who use their cars in their everyday lives. This will help contributing less greenhouse emission, at the same time, provide human more options to work out and revitalized neighborhoods.
Hope these points can help you, and Veronica, with your home location selection.
Mei Fang, is an urban planner with a strong passion in urban and landscape design, she also enjoy looking for the variety culture inside of the city.