New Guide Provides Instructions For Setting LEED Project/Campus Boundaries

Shortly after complaining about changes about new policy documentation from the GBCI, it occurred to me that the USGBC also published a much needed updated to their Application Guide for Multiple Buildings and On-Campus Building Projects (2010 AGMBC) that does a good job of clarifying how to document 'weird' site conditions. The previous 2005 edition did not have much guidance for how to determine LEED Campus and Project boundaries, an issue the new guide explains in easy to use terms.

If this is your campus boundary, you may want to consider downsizing it a bit

Though both documents provide guidance on how to calculate specific credits when multiple buildings on a similar site are seeking certification, I'm most interested in how to set the Project and Campus boundaries. This process is as much art as it is science, and the new guide goes so far as to say that "guidance on where to draw the LEED Campus Boundary is intentionally non-specific". This is a good thing, because boundary issues for an urban project with multiple buildings on one well-defined site are going to be different than the issues a campus may face when certifying a single building on a site where the school owns thousands of acres.

Key Issues

Project vs. Site Boundary - For 'normal' projects (I'm not sure I've worked on a 'normal' project yet!), you create a single LEED Project Boundary where all credits are calculated based on what happens within that zone. This is normally supposed to be the legal limits of the site, but many times multiple buildings will eventually be built in Multiple building or campus projects will frequently have two boundaries, a Project Boundary and a Campus Boundary.

  • The Campus Boundary is normally the entire area that the owner (normally a large developer or university) owns or has control over, but in some instances it will be a subset of that property (e.g. a 'quad' of a university campus or one phase of a master development). The purpose of the campus boundary is to allow the project team to take credit for shared infrastructure (e.g. stormwater mitigation efforts, dedicated open space, structured parking) that may serve the project but is not part of the scope of the specific project seeking LEED. It may not contain areas outside of the legal control of the organization seeking certification (e.g. off-campus areas can not be included just because there's a park there that would help with an open space credit)
  • The Project Boundary is contained completely within the campus boundary, and is defined as "all land that is associated with and supports normal project operations, including all land that was or will be disturbed for the purpose of undertaking the LEED project." In other words, it's the area you're actually affecting when building the specific project seeking certification. The project team has reasonable discretion in determining this boundary, and past experience has indicated that review teams will accept anything that isn't clearly 'juked' (e.g. including a sliver of a site to connect your project to a park to earn open space).

There's more to it than stated above, and I strongly suggest you and your consultants read the guide and then sit down to determine boundaries as a group to make sure all credit impacts are considered. In past projects I've worked on, stormwater mitigation and light pollution credits had the biggest influence on these boundaries, but parking, open space, and a variety of other credits could come into play as well.

I'm heading to Greenbuild 2010 today... Hope to see you there!

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