The location where the green building is indented to be constructed and the environment surround the location play an important role in the overall sustainability of the green building.
The site that is selected for the construction not only must satisfy the building project but also the municipality under which the site is constructed. This means that, a building in the site must be constructed such a way that the surrounding natural environment and the related ecosystem is not affected in any means.
While conducting the procedures for site selection, the surrounding waterways, nearby farmland and protected wetlands must be taken as main considerations in the decision.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a certification that is provided for buildings with green qualities and sustainability.
If we do not have a plan to seek the LEED certification for the building, the guidelines under the LEED policy can be followed to make the construction a sustainable project in all means.
LEED Credits for Sustainable Projects
Twenty - six credits are given up by LEED for projects that prove sustainable. The projects that comes under this category include:
- The projects that help in the restoration and the protection of natural habitats
- Projects that are planned and developed on brownfield sites
- The projects that maximize the open space
- The project that help in connecting different communities and favoring overall development goals.
- Encouraging the occupants to bicycle to their work by provision of bicycle garage
- Projects that provide facility for the storage of low-emission and energy efficient vehicles, for example electric cars.
- Projects that provide access to public transportation in a convenient manner.
- Projects that supports the provision of storm water storage. For example, the provision of green roofs.
- The projects that help in the reduction of heat island effects.
The main objective is not only to stop the bad impact on the environment due to the new construction but also to bring this new building construction as a positive addition to the site.
Factors Affecting the Site Selection for Green Building Construction
Most of the project constructed do not completely follow the guidelines that are specified by the LEED system, especially for the site selection. They just consider only the goals that are important for the project and the objectives of the organization.
Below are certain essential parameters that must to be taken into consideration while selecting the site:
- Impact on the Environment
- Connection with the Community
- New Development is Limited
- Public Amenities and Availability
- Utilizing Open spaces
- Heat Land Reduction
- Storm Water Control
Impact on the Environment
The environmental impact from the project is how the construction of buildings, roadways, parking structures affect the soil, land, the waterways and the whole ecosystem. LEED rating system points out certain policies, which include:
Not to undergo construction of structures on land that is purely marked as the farmland by the government authorities as per the Department of agriculture. This is specifically marked in U.S.
No construction on land that serves as natural habitats for the endangered species
Avoid construction on land that was previously marked as public parkland
Avoid constructing on land less than 50 cents that have small waterways which are the habitat for aquatic lives. This are land that serve recreation purpose.
Connection with the Community
This idea is based On LEED system which specifies that the construction of a particular project must contribute some positive development for the surrounding community under consideration.
This means to protect the green fields that are the important trademark for the community and convert any grayfield or brownfield for the construction purpose.
LEED specifies certain specifications and concerns related to the same:
- Having project development that is half a mile away from the populated or residential area.
- A site that was previously occupied and form an urban neighborhood is good for development.
- Having renovations to the existing buildings
- Having the project within half mile of amenities. The access to these amenities must also be provided by means of sidewalks, roadways so that pedestrians can reach easily. The amenities include places of worship, hospitals and medical centres, post offices, restaurant, stores, libraries and parks.
LEED system application in green building construction not just let the construction happen in a sustainable manner, but also help develop the community surrounding the construction site.
New Development is Limited
This policy of LEED system is to make it clear to avoid the construction of a new project on a new land and utilize the land that are already abandoned. This involves the construction on brownfield sites, run – down land.
The sites that are already contaminates, landfills, and those lands that are classified as brownfields sites officially by government can also be utilized for the same.
There are certain policies that are put forward by LEED system in order to save the green field land, by restricting the perimeter of the building:
1. The construction of a parking garage can be carried out under the building (underground parking) instead on outside land.
2. To have reduction of water usage, bad impacts on soil and spreading of invasive plants; low maintenance plants and shrubs that are very much native and local to the area are incorporated as a part of building aesthetics and landscaping feature.
3. The construction or the demolition activities carried out are kept within a limited boundary, so that the surrounding environment does not face undesirable disturbances.
LEED system provides a great concern for proximity of transportation. When analyzing a building that is seeking LEED certification, a maximum of 6 credits are given for those construction sites that are near to public transportation facilities like subway station, train station and bus station.
The LEED specifies the site to be within a quarter of a mile walking distance for a minimum of 1 or 2 stops for transportation. This promotes the use of public transportation by the future occupants instead of having their own cars. This reduces traffic, carbon emission and hence the negative impacts on the environment.
Public Amenities and Availability
Those project that grants room for storage and bicycle racks are credited with 1 point by the LEED system under LEED certification credits. If the commercial green building also provide space for workers for changing rooms, storage lockers, showers and other essential utilities this credit is added.
The racks that are provided must be within 200 yards of the building. These racks must occupy 5% of the building occupants. The changing areas and the showers must be sufficient so that it occupies 0.5% of the occupants.
If the facility provide space for parking low emission vehicles and electric cars the LEED system credit with 3 points. If there is parking charge, it must be discounted for 20%.
This point can increase, if there is provision for alternative fuel stations. This helps the employees to carpool or ride – share in a low emitting vehicles. This commitment must be for at least 2 years.
If the facility grants primary packages for the carpools and shuttle service during mass transportation, the LEED system credits 2 points.
Utilization of Open Space
The provision of open space in an office environment help to preserve the natural environment and the improvement of overall working atmosphere. This makes LEED system to grant 1 point.
This can be achieved by different methods, which includes:
- Having open space greater than local zoning requirements by an amount of 25%.
- Having open space that is 20 % of the building footprint. These are for areas with no open space environment available.
Having underground parking or sharing the parking with the neighboring buildings or the facilities helps to achieve the above mention goal for open space.
Control of Storm water
For those projects that reduces the pollution caused by storm water by an amount of 25% makes the LEED system to grant 1 point. This includes the incorporation of irrigation techniques so that the storm water and the runoff is controlled and prevented adequately.
The use of permeable pavements helps in the reduction of storm water and runoff issues. The use of such special pavement helps in water absorption that help in ground water recharging.
The storm water can be collected and used for landscape irrigation and for toilet flushing. Extra points are also for those facilities that collects and treat 90 % of the storm water runoff.
Reduction of Heat Islands: Many methods can be followed so that heat absorbing structures can be reduced. This means the formation of heat islands is reduced. The use of black roof can be avoided as a measure against heat island.
The use of shading through trees or through sun blockers artificially made or minimize the using open parking lots are some of the good measures.
The use of vegetated roofs or a roof that is painted in light color help a lot in avoiding heat absorption. Having vegetation on the exterior landscape of the building is also a good solution against heat islands. The LEED system grants 1 point for these considerations.