LEED® Rating Options for Campuses
By Scott May
In October 2005, the United States Green Building Council introduced application guidelines allowing campuses or multiple buildings within a campus or development to share credits. The applications of such possibilities are clear for higher education settings, governmental agencies, corporations, and developers with a sustainable mindset: sharing credits can take advantage of scale economies and streamline the certification process. Such a process is currently being used at the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) in Greenville, S.C., and is resulting in great rewards for the University.
The intent of the USGBC application guidelines allows campuses or developments a great deal of flexibility in spreading campus credits over time (for phased projects or multiple buildings within a campus or development) and across broad areas (as defined by the team submitting the application). A campus overlay credit system, similar to an overlay ordinance for a municipal zoning area or a campus masterplan, can be created and applied to the entire development or an individual building.
According to the application guidelines, there are three tracks by which a building or development can pursue LEED® overlay credits:
1. Certifying a new building within a setting of existing buildings that are considered a campus, i.e. there is one owner or common property management and control.
2. Certifying a group of new buildings as a package where the entire building set will be rated as a package and only one rating received. These buildings may constitute the entire campus or be a subset of an existing campus.
3. Certifying new buildings where each new building is constructed to a set of standards but will receive an independent rating based on achievement of credits beyond the standards specific to that building. These buildings may constitute the entire campus or be a subset of an existing campus.
The zone which the campus credits are applied can be determined by the owner or designer, but must be consistently applied to all projects seeking to take advantage of the available credit. For example, the CU-ICAR development pursued a campus storm water management plan that was applicable to the entire campus, rather than looking at a storm water plan for each of the six buildings within the first area of campus development. The limits of the development area to be considered within the plan were carefully determined and recorded for several independent design teams working on different buildings simultaneously. The management plan was instituted, and several credits were made available to each of the buildings.
Likewise, a centralized parking deck provided credits to each of the buildings for covered parking, reserved carpool and alternative fueling vehicles, and contributed to high albedo surfacing calculations.
Individual boundaries were also determined for each building to evaluate light pollution credits, water efficiency credits, and innovative wastewater technologies for each building independently, since not all strategies were appropriate for all buildings. Many of the LEED® Rating System pre-requesites and available points can be applied campus wide, and the application guidelines provide specific instructions for how to achieve appropriate points.
The key to a successful application of the guidelines is no different than for many project types: early decision making, team coordination, and a commitment to a common goal. The result of these efforts can include reduced costs for owners and developers, as well as a powerful sustainability statement for institutions, livable communities, and building developers.
About the author: Prescott D. (Scott) May, AIA, LEED AP, is a Principal with the firm of Neal Prince Architects in Greenville, South Carolina. He has over 27 years of experience in the design and construction industry and gained LEED® accreditation in 2000. His firm is currently involved with several LEED® registered projects and incorporates sustainable design principles in all projects regardless of formal project LEED® participation.