Understanding Open Space in LEED v4/ v4.1

Green Building Team on March 28, 2020

Each month we’re highlighting an interesting question you posed to LEED Coach Canada regarding LEED v4/v4.1. LEED Coach Canada is supported by a collaborative team of professionals with diverse technical backgrounds located across Canada. For insightful answers to your LEED questions, email LEEDCoach@gbcicanada.ca.

For LEED BD+C v4 Sustainable Sites credit Open Space, can areas of turf grass (sod) contribute to vegetated open space calculations?

Colleen Loader, Manager, Sites, Water, & Materials answers:

Turf areas can be counted in total open space but do not qualify as the 25% of the open space that needs to be vegetated. Additionally, for turf areas to qualify as open space, the areas must be physically accessible and with physical site elements that accommodate outdoor social activities or that encourage physical activity. Small strips of vegetation along roadways or parking lots would not be considered usable and cannot contribute to credit achievement.

Note also that for areas to be counted towards the vegetated portion of the open space, the space must still be physically accessible and meet one of the following criteria: a garden space with a diversity of vegetation types and species that provide opportunities for year-round visual interest; a garden space dedicated to community gardens or urban food production; or a preserved or created habitat that meets the criteria of SSc Protect or Restore Habitat and also includes elements of human interaction. Note, again, that open space must be usable; small strips of vegetation abutting a parking lot would not be considered usable.

Project teams may also wish to consider adopting the credit under LEED BD+C v4.1 which allows all projects to utilize physically accessible vegetated roofs toward the minimum vegetation requirement. Additionally, for the vegetated area, overhead canopies can now be utilized, and landscaped areas need only have two (or more) types of vegetation, rather than a diversity of types; however, the latter areas must still provide opportunities for year-round visual interest.

Reviewer Insight: Submitting your documentation in LEED Online

Keep file names short.

Long file names can prevent files from downloading from LEED Online. To ensure that your documentation can be fully accessed in review, consider a few ways to keep file names brief:

  • Use ‘CamelCase’ (i.e., eliminate spaces and use capital letters for each new word)
  • Avoid special characters
  • Shorten date formats (e.g., YYMMDD)
  • Abbreviate longer names wherever possible

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