LEED 2009 Regional Credits Now Available

As of today, regional priority (RP) credits can now be found on the USGBC website for each state in a protected (what else?) excel format. For each state file there's a tab for all programs within the v3 system (LEED-NC, LEED-CS, LEED-Schools, LEED-CI, and LEED-EB:O&M).

Eligible points are determined via zip code, and from what I can tell it's a bit more complex than the simple "urban/rural" split that was rumored earlier.

I haven't looked at this in great detail yet, deciding instead to use my home state of South Carolina and the home state of most of my readers, California, to try to make sense of what's going on...

Get Down with the Breakdown

The Chosen Ones

South Carolina has two groups of bonus points, though they only really differ by a single credit:

  • Group 1 - Urbanish?
    • SSc4.1 - Alternative Transportation, Public Transportation Access
    • SSc6.1 -Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
    • WEc3 (40%) - Water Use Reduction
    • EAc1 (28% new/ 24% renovation) - Optimize Energy Performance
    • EAc2 (1 %) - On-Site Renewable Energy
    • EQc7.1 - Thermal Comfort, Design
  • Group 2 - Ruralish?
    • SSc6.1 - Stormwater Design, Quantity Control
    • WEc3 (40%) - Water Use Reduction
    • EAc1 (28% new/ 24% renovation) - Optimize Energy Performance
    • EAc2 (1 %) - On-Site Renewable Energy
    • EQc7.1 - Thermal Comfort, Design
    • MRc2 (50%) - Construction Waste Management

As you can see, the bonus points for SC are identical with the exception that certain zip codes can earn more points focusing on transportation access while others should focus more strongly on reducing waste to the landfill during construction. Looking briefly at California's options, there are four separate groups instead of just two.

Living in the Charleston area, my first take on these points is that they are for the most part representative of our needs. Charleston is working to build capacity for our bus system and is looking into commuter/light rail options (SSc4.1). Flooding after storms (or just a really high tide for that matter) is a huge issue on the penninsula (SSc6.2). Like much of the nation, we're fighting the approval of new coal fired plants, and part of that argument is that efficiency (EAc1) and renewable sources (EAc2) can negate the need for more large scale polluters. Landfill space is becoming a premium (MRc2) with one of our major local C&D sites shutting down in less than two months. The only one I can't quite figure is the need for a bonus point for EQc7.1, Thermal Comfort, Design. I think there are plenty of other options that would be a better fit, and am curious to hear the reasoning behind this choice. On the whole though, well selected!

The Great Divide?

Things really start go it interesting when you try to figure out what the dividing lines were for one group over the other. I started by taking what I figured to be the 'urban' group (the one with a bonus for alternative transportation access) and painstakingly marking those on a zip code map of SC. About an hour into the process I noticed that many zip codes are listed for BOTH groups, making my efforts incorrect and completely worthless. See for yourself:

Utterly Useless

LEGEND - The orange on this map indicates an hour of my time that I'll never get back

At this point I can't make heads or tails of how zip codes where placed in one category or another. Quite a few lucky zip codes effectively have 7 regional priority options instead of six. I'm not sure if this is a mistake or intentional (it doesn't seem to have occurred in the California spreadsheet), so we'll have to wait and see what comes down from national on this subject. From what I can tell there seems to be a distinction between zip codes that are completely urban (don't ask me how they defined 'urban), those that are completely rural, and those that contain elements of both. I'd like to point out that it's very difficult to discern patterns from a list of zip codes, so I could be off on the whole urban/rural thing to begin with. There's not exactly any explanation I've been able to find on the subject.

Finally, people working on foreign projects won't receive much help here either. I would guess that they're not eligible for regional points at this time, and will update you once/if I hear otherwise.

Could you gleam some extraordinary insight into your state's RP credits? Think they're a good/bad fit for the issues of your region? Let us know by leaving a comment!


tnrkitect said...

Tennessee has the same credits and the same Rural / Metro split as South Carolina.

aml said...

It seems to me that most of the regional priority credits are just regular credits with lower requirement thresholds.

For example, for zip code 90021, one can get one regional priority credit on EA C2 so long as 1% of energy is generated onsite from renewable sources, whereas to get one credit for EA C2 proper, at least 2,5% is required.

A few regional credits have more stringent threshold than regular credits, e.g. requiring water efficiency of 40% vs 30% needed for WE 3.1,3.2. In these instances, they are effectively the same as exemplary performance.

Is my understanding correct?

Anonymous said...

They really don't like to offer data in an easy format do they. A map would have been nice.

There was a lot more information submitted to USGBC by the Chapters. Each Environmental Zone had a name, definition, and issues relavant to that EZ. Each bonus Credit had to have a rational explained for why the credit was selected. Full disclosure would be nice.

no meato burrito said...

They also don't like to offer consistent and easy to understand instructions.

The USGBC website link for regional priority credits states that "Earning up to four of the six credits in a project's location will earn a project one bonus point toward LEED certification". This implies that if a project achieves one RP credits or if it achieves FOUR RP credits, it will still only earn *one* extra point.

However, the v3 reference guide states that "one point is awarded for each regional priority credit achieved" and that "no more than 4 credits identified as regional priority credits may be earned." This more clearly spells out that it is possible to earn *four* RP points.

I have seen the letter template for the RP credits yet, but I would assume it is the latter case.

no meato burrito said...

I should say, I have *NOT* seen the LEED letter template for the RP credits...

Blondie79 said...

On the foreign front, when I last sat in on an Emirates Green Building Council Meeting, regional credits for the Emirates were being crafted and were planned to be released by July 2009.

Unknown said...


Make sure to check the new thresholds for LEED v3.0. The EAc2 threshold was dropped to 1% for the first point.

Anonymous said...

since international projects now comprise 27% of all project square footage, don't you think we need a bit more guidance on RP...and maybe an SI eddition (like ASHRAE)