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Heather C. McCombs, LEED AP ID+C

LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED® v4 Edition, contains procedures commonly practiced in industry and the trade. Specific procedures vary with each task and must be performed by a qualified person. For maximum safety, always refer to specific manufacturer recommendations, insurance regulations, specific job site and plant procedures, applicable federal, state, and local regulations, and any authority having jurisdiction. The material contained herein is intended to be an educational resource for the user. American Technical Publishers, Inc. assumes no responsibility or liability in connection with this material or its use by any individual or organization.

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© 2015 by American Technical Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 –  15 –  9 8 7 6 5 4 3 Printed in the United States of America    ISBN 978-0-8269-1294-7

Heather McCombs, LEED AP® ID+C, earned her LEED® professional credential on December 31, 2008. Soon after, she started the Northeast/Fox Valley branch of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance (WGBA), the Wisconsin chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC®). In 2010, McCombs developed and taught curriculum for the first LEED Green Associate™ exam preparation classes at Fox Valley Technical College. When she became Executive Director of the Wisconsin chapter of USGBC in 2011, she continued to teach LEED Green Associate exam preparation. McCombs currently teaches in the Sustainability Management Minor program for the College of Business at the University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh. Heather McCombs has a BFA from California Institute of the Arts and an MS in Organizational Leadership and Quality from Marian University. LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED® v4 Edition, is a continuation of McCombs’s work to make LEED and sustainability standard practice in the design, construction, and operation of buildings.

Aldo Leopold Foundation

Green Apple


Husqvarna Construction Products

Bently Holdings

IBEW 697

Big Head Farm

KT Innovations

BLM Oregon

Linden Group Architects

Bosch Thermotechnology Corp.


Carrier Corporation

SC Johnson

Center for Resource Solutions

Tesla Motors, Inc.

Chicago Dept. of Transportation

Toyota Motor Corporation

DJK Custom Homes, Inc. Plainfield, IL


DVO, Inc.

U.S. Green Building Council

FANUC Robotics North America

Viessmann Manufacturing Company Inc. Water Harvesting Solutions, Inc.

LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED® v4 Edition, is a comprehensive study reference for the LEED Green Associate exam. This exam preparation guide provides a detailed and efficient approach to studying through concise text and detailed, full-color illustrations and photos. To aid in the successful passing of the LEED Green Associate exam, each feature in the print and digital resources is designed to promote quick comprehension. These features include objectives, key terms and definitions, factoids, and from the field notes in addition to practice questions and sample exam questions.

Objectives address the main concepts, task domains, and knowledge domains within each chapter.

Key Terms provide a list of terms to understand for taking the LEED Green Associate exam.

Factoids supply information related to chapter topics.

From the Field showcases a LEED-credentialed professional.

Key Terms and Definitions provide detailed explanations for the key terms listed at the beginning of each chapter.

Practice Questions provide a sample of questions that review the information in the chapter.


Becoming a LEED® Green Associate™ 1 History of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design • Benefits of the LEED® Green Associate™ Credential • Network Involvement • Employment Opportunities and Job Security • Specialized Communication Skills • Demand for Green Associates • LEED Applications • Agriculture, Horticulture, and Natural Resources • Architecture • Business, Management, and Finance • Construction • Culinary and Hospitality • Energy • Engineering Technology • Environmental Policy and Studies • Human Resources • Insurance and Banking • Interior Design • Landscaping • Manufacturing • Marketing and Public Relations • Real Estate • Transportation • Urban Planning


The Test Process


LEED® Green Associate™ Exam • Registration and Exam Fees • Exam Format • Credential Maintenance • Exam Preparation • Reference Materials • Studying for the Exam • Memorization • Practice Exams • Timeline • Taking the Exam


LEED v4 Core Concepts and Themes


Global Climate Change • Impact Categories • Life-Cycle Approach • Life-Cycle Assessments • Life-Cycle Costing • Triple Bottom Line • Cost of Green Building • Regenerative Building • Integrative Process • Integrative Process Credit • Integrative Process Phases • Iterative Process • Systems Thinking • Open Systems • Closed Systems • Feedback Loops • Leverage Points • Practice Questions


Overview of USGBC® and LEED® 43 U.S. Green Building Council • LEED Products and Services • Community Involvement • Education • Advocacy Opportunities • Grassroots Initiatives • LEED Rating Systems • LEED for Building Design and Construction • LEED for Interior Design and Construction • LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance • LEED for Homes Design and Construction • LEED for Neighborhood Development • Checklists • Prerequisites • Credits • General Credit Categories • Homes Credit Categories • Neighborhood Development Credit Categories • Credit Interpretation Requests • Minimum Program Requirements • Impact Categories • Pilot Credit Library • Certification Levels • Certification Process • The Project Team • Rating System Selection • Project Registration • Credit Submittals • Project Review • Project Certification • Cost of LEED • LEED Programs • LEED Volume Program • LEED Campus Program • Recertification Program • LEED Professional Credentials • LEED Green Associates • LEED APs • LEED Fellow • Certificates • Trademark and Terminology Policies • LEED and Building Codes • Alternate Rating Systems • Practice Questions


Location and Transportation


Location and Transportation • Location Intents • Location Strategies • Transportation Intents • Transportation Strategies • Site Development Intents • Site Development Strategies • Health and Livability Intents • Health and Livability Strategies • Practice Questions


Sustainable Sites


Sustainable Sites and Environmental Impacts • Site Design and Management • Site Design and Management Intents • Site Design and Management Strategies • Rainwater Management • Rainwater Management Intents • Rainwater Management Strategies • Heat Island Effect • Heat Island Intents • Heat Island Strategies • Light Pollution • Light Pollution Intents • Light Pollution Strategies • Practice Questions


Water Efficiency


Innovative Approaches to Water Conservation • Baseline and Design Cases • EPAct of 1992 • Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) • Flush Fixtures and Flow Fixtures • Increasing Water Efficiency • Reducing Indoor Water Use • Reducing Indoor Water Use Intents • Reducing Indoor Water Use Strategies • Reducing Outdoor Water Use • Reducing Outdoor Water Use Intents • Reducing Outdoor Water Use Strategies • Practice Questions


Energy and Atmosphere


Energy and Atmosphere • Baseline and Design Cases • Reducing Energy Demand • Reducing Energy Demand Intents • Reducing Energy Demand Strategies • Increasing Energy Efficiency • Increasing Energy Efficiency Intents • Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies • Producing Renewable Energy • Producing Renewable Energy Intents • Producing Renewable Energy Strategies • Refrigerant Management • Refrigerant Management Intents • Refrigerant Management Strategies • Ongoing Energy Performance • Practice Questions


Materials and Resources


Materials and Resources • Materials and Resources Intents • Materials and Resources Strategies • Product Attributes and Disclosures • Material Conservation • Material Conservation Intents • Material Conservation Strategies • Environmentally Preferable Materials • Environmentally Preferable Materials Intents • Environmentally Preferable Materials Strategies • Waste Management • Waste Management Intents • Waste Management Strategies • Practice Questions


Indoor Environmental Quality


The Indoor Environment • Baseline and Design Cases • Increasing Indoor Environmental Quality • Indoor Air Quality Intents • Indoor Air Quality Strategies • Occupant Comfort • Lighting Intents • Lighting Strategies • Acoustic Performance Intents • Acoustic Performance Strategies • Occupant Comfort, Health, and Satisfaction Intents • Occupant Comfort, Health, and Satisfaction Strategies • Space Categorization • Occupied vs. Unoccupied Spaces • Regularly vs. Nonregularly Occupied Spaces • Individual Occupant vs. Shared Multioccupant Spaces • Practice Questions


Innovation and Regional Priority


Innovation • Innovation Intents • Innovation Strategies • Regional Priority • Regional Priority Intent • Regional Priority Strategies • Practice Questions


Primary References Primary References


APPENDIX 223 LEED Certification Standards and References_____________________________________ LEED v4 for BD+C: New Construction and Major Renovation Checklist__________________ Sample Exam Questions______________________________________________________ Answers___________________________________________________________________

223 230 231 238


I NDEX 249

LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED® v4 Edition, provides a comprehensive review of the concepts of sustainability and green building. Using this exam preparation guide in conjunction with the primary references and exam specifications will help ensure exam day success. Chapter 1 introduces the LEED Green Associate credential and explains why it is so beneficial and important to professionals in fields related to the design, construction, and operation of buildings. Chapter 2 explains the process of registering for, studying for, and taking the LEED Green Associate exam. Chapter 3 introduces many of the core concepts of the LEED v4 rating system, as well as the LEED v4 impact categories. Chapter 4 provides an overview of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and describes the structure and scope of the LEED v4 rating system, as well as how to select the appropriate rating system adaptation for a project. Chapters 5 through 11 provide a comprehensive review of the LEED v4 rating system credit categories, as well as their intents and strategies. Chapter 12 lists the important primary references that an exam candidate must study for the exam. The Appendix provides other helpful reference materials. A bank of sample exam questions in the back of the book, along with practice questions at the end of each chapter, allow an exam candidate to assess knowledge and determine areas in need of further study.

LEED® CORE CONCEPTS GUIDE The LEED® Core Concepts Guide is an important document available from USGBC ( that provides a crucial introduction to the fundamental concepts of green building. This document provides an overview of green buildings and communities, sustainable thinking, green building core concepts and application strategies, and USGBC and LEED. An exam candidate should read and understand this document because it will serve as a foundation for more advanced study of green building and the LEED rating systems. Note: Visit the USGBC website for the most current version of LEED® Core Concepts Guide and any other primary reference.

UNDERSTANDING THE TASK AND KNOWLEDGE DOMAINS The LEED Green Associate exam contains 100 multiple-choice questions that reflect task and knowledge domains. For the benefit of the exam candidate and to enhance the educational aspects of this exam preparation guide, these domains and information related to them have been incorporated throughout each chapter. Task Domains The chapters of this exam preparation guide include strategies for fulfilling the prerequisite and credit requirements of the LEED v4 rating system adaptations (specifically LEED BD+C: New Construction), as well as other information pertinent to the responsibilities and professional experiences of a LEED Green Associate. These discussions reflect the principles behind the task domains. The following task domains are integral to the materials presented in this exam preparation guide: • Communicate broad and basic green building concepts to team or colleagues. • Research and create a library of sustainable building materials. • Assist others with sustainability goals. • Create project profiles, case studies, and press releases. • Serve as a green advocate to clients, team members, and the general public. • Stay current on any updates to LEED and green strategies in general. • Navigate in LEED Online. • Assist project leader with LEED correspondence to all project team members. • Assist in managing documentation process. • Assist in managing timeline of LEED certification.

Knowledge Domains Knowledge Domains reflect the LEED v4 rating system credit categories and what one needs to know. These include concepts such as LEED process, Integrative Strategies, LEED credit categories, and Project Surroundings and Public Outreach. This exam preparation guide addresses knowledge domains and their specific components in the following chapters: • LEED Process Organization fundamentals, Structure of LEED rating systems, Scope of each LEED rating system, LEED development process, Credit categories, Impact categories, LEED certification process, Other rating systems are addressed in Chapter 4. Impact categories are also addressed in Chapter 3. • Integrative Strategies Integrative process and Integrative project team members are addressed in Chapter 3 and by the Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies in Chapter 8. Standards that support LEED are addressed by the Baseline and Design Case discussions in Chapter 7, Chapter 8, and Chapter 10, as well as in the Appendix. • Location and Transportation Site selection is addressed by the Location Strategies, Transportation Strategies, Site Development Strategies, and Health and Livability Strategies in Chapter 5. Alternative transportation is addressed by the Transportation Strategies and the Health and Livability Strategies in Chapter 5. • Sustainable Sites Site assessment is addressed by the Site Design and Management Strategies in Chapter 6. Site design and development are addressed by the Site Design and Management Strategies, Rainwater Management Strategies, Heat Island Strategies, and Light Pollution Strategies in Chapter 6. • Water Efficiency Outdoor water use is addressed by the Reducing Outdoor Water Use Strategies in Chapter 7. Indoor water use is addressed by the Reducing Indoor Water Use Strategies in Chapter 7. Water performance management is addressed by the Reducing Indoor Water Use Strategies and Reducing Outdoor Water Use Strategies in Chapter 7. • Energy and Atmosphere Building loads are addressed by the Reducing Energy Demand Strategies and Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies in Chapter 8. Energy efficiency is addressed by the Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies and Refrigerant Management Strategies in Chapter 8. Alternative and renewable energy practices are addressed by the Producing Renewable Energy Strategies in Chapter 8. Energy performance management is addressed by the Reducing Energy Demand Strategies and Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies in Chapter 8. Environmental concerns are addressed by the Reducing Energy Demand Strategies, Increasing Energy Efficiency Strategies, Producing Renewable Energy Strategies, and Refrigerant Management Strategies in Chapter 8.

• Materials and Resources Reuse is addressed by the Materials and Resources Strategies, Material Conservation Strategies in Chapter 9. Life-cycle impacts are addressed by the Materials and Resources Strategies, Material Conservation Strategies, and Environmentally Preferable Materials Strategies in Chapter 9. Waste is addressed by the Materials and Resources Strategies, Environmentally Preferable Materials Strategies, and Waste Management Strategies in Chapter 9. Purchasing and declarations are addressed by the Materials and Resources Strategies and Environmentally Preferable Materials Strategies in Chapter 9. • Indoor Environmental Quality Indoor air quality is addressed by the Indoor Air Quality Strategies in Chapter 10. Lighting is addressed by the Lighting Strategies in Chapter 10. Sound is addressed by the Acoustic Performance Strategies in Chapter 10. Occupant comfort, health, and satisfaction are addressed by the Occupant Comfort, Health, and Satisfaction Strategies in Chapter 10. • Project Surroundings and Public Outreach Environmental impacts of the built environment are addressed by the discussions of Global Climate Change and the Triple Bottom Line in Chapter 3 and the Innovation Strategies in Chapter 11, as well as in the intents and strategies of the rating system categories in Chapter 5, Chapter 6, Chapter 7, Chapter 8, and Chapter 9. Codes are addressed by LEED and Building Codes in Chapter 4. Values of sustainable design are addressed by the discussions of the Life-Cycle Approach and Cost of Green Building in Chapter 3, the Heat Island Strategies in Chapter 6, Environmental Preferable Materials in Chapter 9, and the Innovation Strategies in Chapter 11. Regional design is addressed by the Site Design and Management Strategies and Rainwater Management Strategies in Chapter 6, the Materials and Resources Strategies and Environmentally Preferable Materials Intents in Chapter 9, and Regional Priority Strategies in Chapter 11.

The ability to efficiently navigate and access online resources is an important facet of using LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEEDŽ v4 Edition, for its greatest educational benefit. USGBC Website The USGBC website is home to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the most recognized and widely used green building certification program in the world. The USGBC website includes materials and articles related to LEED v4. An exam candidate should gain familiarity with the USGBC website by navigating through its different pages to understand how and where to access its resources. LINKS FOR EASY NAVIGATION

This exam preparation guide also provides the candidate with specific addresses to pages on the USGBC website through intext references and Quick Response (QR) code technology. QR codes located throughout the exam preparation guide offer easy access to related information on the Internet via mobile device technology. To access content using a QR code, follow these steps: 1. Download a QR code reader app to a mobile device. (Visit for more information.) 2. Open the app and scan the QR code on the book page. 3. Instantly access the digital content.

LEED Online LEED Online ( is the place to streamline LEED project management experience, organize work, and engage with whole team projects. LEED users and professionals can register projects, track credits, add and assign project team members, submit applications for review, and receive certification, all in real time. It is important for exam candidates to know how to navigate and use this quick, simple, and efficient tool.


Education @USGBC Education @USGBC is an online platform featuring best-in-class courses and educational content related to sustainability and LEED. The platform includes courses created by USGBC as well as courses created by USGBC Education Partners. USGBC Education Partners are education leaders and reputable content providers of green building and sustainability education who have the resources, knowledge, and skills to produce best-in-class education. Education @USGBC can be accessed on the USGBC website (

LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED® v4 Edition, includes digital resources that enhance chapter concepts and promote learning. These digital resources can be accessed by either of the following methods:

• keying into a web browser and entering the QuickLink™ code: • using a QR code reader app to scan the QR code with a mobile device

Digital Resources included with the guide: • Quick Quizzes® that provide interactive questions for each chapter with embedded links to highlighted content within the textbook and to the Illustrated Glossary • An Illustrated Glossary that defines commonly used terms and provides links to interactive illustrations for selected terms • Flash Cards that provide a self-study/review tool for exam preparation in interactive and Print&Cut™ formats • A Practice Exam offers an assessment of knowledge with typical exam questions • A Media Library that consists of video clips and animated graphics of selected topics •, which provides access to online reference materials for continued learning

OBJECTIVES • Identify site assessment strategies. • Describe site design and management strategies. • Describe rainwater management strategies. • Explain how to reduce the heat island effect of a building and the building site. • Identify strategies used to reduce light pollution.

KEY TERMS • albedo • aquifer • biodiversity • bioswale • building footprint • dry pond • ecosystem • floor-area ratio (FAR) • green infrastructure (GI)

Site design is one of the most critical factors of any building project. Considering the local bioregion, watershed, and community can help a project team maximize the sustainable features of the project and minimize the project’s impact on the surrounding environment and to climate change. The Sustainable Sites (SS) category in the LEED rating systems closely addresses the environmental impacts of site design and management, rainwater management, heat island effect, and light pollution of a building site.

• heat island effect • impervious • integrated pest management (IPM) • light trespass • low impact development (LID) • native and adapted species • nonpoint source pollution • pervious • rain garden • rainwater harvesting • rainwater runoff • solar reflectance index (SRI) • watershed • xeriscaping


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SUSTAINABLE SITES AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS The goal of the Sustainable Sites (SS) category is to reduce the environmental impact of developing a building site and maintaining it for the life of the building. Environmental impacts can be considered by examining how a new building site can affect the environment throughout its construction and lifetime. The SS category addresses strategies for designing and managing the building site and reducing rainwater runoff, the heat island effect, and light pollution. In LEED v4, strategies for selecting the project site are explained in the new Location and Transportation (LT) category.

SITE DESIGN AND MANAGEMENT The SS category encourages responsible site design and management because a building and its site can have a large impact on the environment. For example, wildlife habitats can be damaged or destroyed as land is cleared for construction, and the cleared land can become vulnerable to soil erosion. Landscaping often includes new grass and nonnative vegetation that require pesticide use and daily watering. Greenhouse gases are emitted by construction equipment and other vehicles. Sustainable design and management practices that conserve, restore, and protect the environment are eligible to earn credits in the SS category. Site Design and Management Intents The site design and management credits of the SS category are critical for reducing the environmental impact of a building site. One intent of these credits is to guide the construction and management of the project throughout its lifetime to limit environmental destruction inherent to building. Another intent of these credits is to make use of existing site features to enhance overall sustainability and occupant experience.

Site Design and Management Strategies The strategies to meet the site design and management credit requirements reflect the SS category knowledge domains of site assessment and site design and development. The part of the Project Surroundings and Public Outreach knowledge domain concerning regional design is emphasized in the SS category strategies. These strategies include construction pollution prevention, protection and restoration of habitat, reducing the size of building footprints, increasing density, maximizing open spaces, planting native and adapted plant species, and developing a sustainable site management plan. Projects using the LEED BD+C: Schools and Healthcare rating systems must perform an environmental site assessment. SS Prerequisite — Environmental Site Assessment requires that the site receives a Phase I Environmental Site Assessment to determine whether environmental contamination exists at the site as described in ASTM E1527–05. If contamination is suspected, a Phase II Environmental Site Assessment must be conducted. If the Phase II Environmental Site Assessment indicates soil or groundwater contamination, site remediation must occur. A site assessment will teach the project team about the site’s challenges and features so that they can thoughtfully plan the location of the building to enhance its features and to mitigate issues found during environmental assessments and those due to human impact. During the site assessment, a project team will consider opportunities for open space, protection of native habitats and species, climate and rainfall, site contamination and remediation needs, and whether the site has been previously developed/disturbed, among other things. The intent of SS Credit—Site Assessment, which is an option for all project types in LEED BD+C, is to assess site conditions before design so as to evaluate sustainable options and inform related decisions about site design. Prevent Construction Pollution. Reducing the impact of pollution on the building site due to construction activity is the

Chapter 6 — Sustainable Sites  93

primary goal of SS Prerequisite—Construction Activity Pollution Prevention. More specifically, it aims to reduce pollution from construction activities by controlling soil erosion, waterway sedimentation, and the generation of airborne dust. It requires that every project create and implement an erosion and sedimentation control plan for all construction activities associated with the project. This plan often includes the implementation of operational procedures on the project site, such as using silt fencing to control erosion, watering down the site or putting down gravel to control airborne dust, and using filtration materials around inlets to control sedimentation. See Figure 6-1. Typically, the first step for new building construction on a greenfield area is to prepare the grade for the foundation by bulldozing the land. As untouched plots of land, greenfield areas are habitats for many animals, insects, and plant life that support biodiversity. Biodiversity increases ecosystem productivity and can help an ecosystem to prevent and recover from many disasters. A well-balanced, diverse ecosystem provides clean air and water and controls erosion. See Figure 6-2. Protect and Restore Habitat. SS Credit—Site Development – Protect or Restore Habitat encourages project teams to designate areas as protected habitat and open space for the life of the project. When building on previously

developed/disturbed sites, project teams should consider on-site restoration. Restoring native soils, plants, and hydrology helps to maintain overall ecosystem health. Reduce Size of Building Footprint. A building footprint is the perimeter of a building as it meets the land on which it occupies. The strategy of reducing the size of the building footprint is important for cost savings and reduction of environmental impact throughout all aspects of the project. Designing a smaller footprint will reduce the construction impact to the land, reduce building materials costs, reduce the costs of mechanical systems, and the cost of heating, air conditioning, and ventilating the building. Some strategies to reduce the footprint include building “up” instead of “out” and having underground parking rather than surface-level parking. This helps to reduce the development footprint, which not only assists with habitat and open space provisions but also with rainwater management and heat island effect reductions. Increase Site Density. Increasing site density is an important strategy to achieve a smaller building footprint without cutting square feet. Building “up” rather than “out” maximizes the floor-area ratio (FAR) of a building project. The higher the density of a building project and the smaller the footprint, the less environmental impact the building has on the land. See Figure 6-3.




Figure 6-1. Sediment carried by rainwater runoff from construction sites, documented as one of the leading sources of pollution to streams and rivers, can be prevented with the implementation of a construction activity pollution plan.

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Figure 6-2. The interactions of a biodiverse ecosystem help to provide clean air and water and control erosion.

FLOOR-AREA RATIO (FAR) 1500 SQ FT (139 m2) FLOOR AREA = 0.3 FAR 5000 SQ FT (465 m2) LOT AREA


Figure 6-3. Both the total floor area of a project and the floor-area ratio (FAR) can be increased by building “up” rather than “out.”

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Maximize Open Space. SS Credit—Open Space requires project teams to provide outdoor space greater than or equal to 30% of the total site area. The intent of this credit is to create exterior open space that encourages interaction with the environment, social interaction, passive recreation, and physical activities. Additionally, open space contributes to supporting biodiversity, managing rainwater, and reducing the heat island effect. Open space can be particularly important for healthcare facilities, as contact with nature has been shown to have healing benefits. There are two additional healthcare credits in the SS category that build off the idea of providing accessible open space, SS Credit —  Places of Respite and SS Credit — Direct Exterior Access. See Figure 6-4.

Plant Native and Adapted Species. Native and adapted plant species require little to no water or pesticides. They are native to the region of the project and can survive the precipitation, drought cycles, and pests indigenous to that region. These considerations are aspects of the regional design part of the Project Surroundings and Public Outreach knowledge domain. The financial and environmental savings achieved in the use of water, pesticides, and labor (as opposed to the use of nonnative species) by incorporating all native and adapted species in landscaping are significant. Native species can be an important part of restoring habitats to their natural state. See Figure 6-5.




Figure 6-4. SS Credit — Open Space requires the provision of outdoor space greater than or equal to 30% of the total site area.



U.S. Green Building Council

Figure 6-5. LEED Gold Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale, AZ, includes native and adapted vegetation throughout the site and within the stadium as a key design element.

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Develop Sustainable Site Management Plan. A prerequisite for the LEED O+M: Existing Buildings rating system is SS Prerequisite—Site Management Policy. To fulfill this requirement, projects must have a sustainable site management policy that addresses all chemicals used on the site, the cleaning of hardscape and the building’s exterior, and pesticide management. The sustainable site management policy is implemented after construction is completed and the building is occupied. The intent of SS Prerequisite — Site Management Policy is to preserve ecological integrity and encourage environmentally sensitive site management practices that provide a clean, well-maintained, and safe building exterior while supporting high-performance building operations and integration into the surrounding landscape. These site management practices protect soil, water, and air resources and also have many economic benefits. Having a proactive maintenance and monitoring policy can help prevent unnecessary costs, such as irrigation system leaks and overuse of fertilization products. A healthy and well-maintained project site that is appealing to occupants and visitors not only benefits human health but also attracts and keeps building tenants.

RAINWATER MANAGEMENT Rainwater management requires understanding the issues that rainwater presents in the context of the built environment. Hardscape surfaces cause rainwater to collect and leave the site as runoff. Rainwater runoff from a building site can disrupt natural hydrology, contaminate nearby bodies of water with nonpoint source pollution, compromise wildlife habitat, and contribute to soil erosion and collapse. When rainwater falls on the impervious concrete and asphalt surfaces (hardscape) of a building site, aquifers and water tables below the hardscape surface cannot be replenished. The credit requirements in the SS category present options to eliminate or reduce runoff. See Figure 6-6.




Figure 6-6. LEED Platinum Aldo Leopold Center in Baraboo, WI, uses a recycled stone aqueduct to funnel rainwater into a rain garden and provide a focal point for the exterior courtyard.

Rainwater Management Intents The intent of SS Credit —Rainwater Management is to reduce rainwater runoff and improve water quality by duplicating the natural hydrology and water balance of the site based on historical conditions and undeveloped ecosystems in the region. Additionally, rainwater may be captured to reduce the building’s potable water use. Rainwater Management Strategies The strategies to meet the rainwater management credit requirements reflect the SS category knowledge domain of site design and development. Because rainfall can differ from region to region, these strategies are also aspects of regional design in the Project Surroundings and Public Outreach knowledge domain. Two steps to approach rainwater management can be used to earn points under SS Credit—Rainwater Management. The first step is to reduce the amount of impervious areas (hardscape) that cause excessive rainwater runoff. The second step is to manage runoff by using green infrastructure and low-impact development techniques.

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A comprehensive rainwater management program that uses both methods to replicate the natural hydrology and water balance on the site can yield the highest return. The following strategies can help project teams achieve their rainwater management goals. Reduce Impervious Hardscape. There are many pervious surface alternatives that can be used in place of hardscape to help manage rainwater at its source and prevent runoff. The most popular choice of pervious surface for rooftops is the green (vegetated) roof. Installing beds of native and adapted plant species on a rooftop traps rainwater and prevents it from running off the roof. Pervious surfaces for sidewalks and parking lots include porous pavement, asphalt, and grid pavers. See Figure 6-7. The difficulty with porous surfaces is that they are permeable to water as well as salt and soil. The tiny openings in porous materials will clog up over time and must be cleaned to retain their permeability. Implement Rainwater Management. Collecting rainwater is a popular option to reduce rainwater runoff. Collected rainwater can be reused for irrigation, process water, or flush fixtures inside the building. Depending on the sophistication of the collection system, the rainwater can be routed through pipes to areas within the building. However, rainwater cannot be used for drinking. In states with drought issues, such as the western states, rainwater harvesting is typically prohibited because the water is allocated for downstream users. Use Passive Rainwater Management. A passive rainwater management system redirects rainwater to planted areas where it is allowed to saturate the soil. Redirecting rainwater into areas that are specifically designed to filter and drain the water back into the earth is fundamental to rainwater management. In regions of the U.S. where rainfall is typically low, any available rainwater runoff must be collected and put to use. Rain gardens, dry ponds, and

bioswales are landscape features designed to clean and hold rainwater and drain it back into the earth. See Figure 6-8.




Figure 6-7. Using porous pavers can eliminate large pools of standing water that frequently result from rainstorms and snowmelt.

A passive rainwater harvesting system can use berms or swales to channel water to a landscaped area for irrigation purposes. See Figure 6-9. This is an inexpensive, yet effective, method of controlling rainwater runoff and reducing soil erosion.

Factoid Flushing toilets uses 30% of treated domestic water. Using harvested rainwater instead of treated water for this purpose could greatly reduce the demand for treated water.

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Figure 6-8. Dry ponds and bioswales are landscape features designed to clean and hold rainwater and drain it back into the earth.





Figure 6-9. Passive rainwater harvesting systems are used to direct rainwater to planted areas where it is allowed to saturate the soil for irrigation purposes.

In low-lying areas susceptible to flash floods, the construction of gabions can protect the landscape from soil erosion by slowing the movement of water. A gabion is a collection of rocks or boulders held together using wire

mesh or metal fabric material for the purpose of reducing soil erosion. The wire mesh or metal fabric holds the rocks and boulders in place. A gabion slows the movement of water, which allows for saturation into the soil.

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Use Active Rainwater Management. Rainwater runoff may not provide enough water to irrigate plants on a regular basis because the amount of runoff is dependent upon weather conditions. For example, in times of dry weather or drought, there may not be enough rain to meet irrigation needs. Therefore, rainwater must be collected and stored for use between rainfall occurrences. An active rainwater harvesting system captures, stores, and later transports rainwater by another means to a desired application area. Commercial buildings typically collect rainwater in large cisterns that are placed on the roof, next to the building, or built into a cavity inside the building. Rainwater collected in an active rainwater harvesting system may be used for drinking water, although it requires treatment through a series of filters and pumps. See Figure 6-10.

a building and its surroundings to warm and the cooling loads of HVAC systems to increase. Constantly operating HVAC systems increase the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the environment. The SS category addresses the heat island effect.

HEAT ISLAND EFFECT The heat island effect is an increase in microclimate temperatures created by waste heat from human activity, building operation, and surfaces in the built environment that absorb sunlight. Dark surfaces such as the hardscape of a building retain solar heat, causing

Downtown urban areas experience increased heat island effects due to large amounts of concrete, pavement, and other heat-absorbing building materials






Figure 6-10. Active rainwater harvesting systems are used to capture and store rainwater for transportation to a desired area at a later time for irrigation purposes.

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Heat Island Intents The intent of the credit in the SS category is to reduce heat islands and minimize their effects on regional climates and human health and wildlife habitats. The credits encourage the project team to design a building and site that have minimal contributions to heat island effects. Often, buildings experience high energy savings when these credit requirements are met. Heat Island Strategies The strategies to meet the heat island reduction credit requirements reflect the SS category knowledge domain of site design and development. These strategies also address energy savings over time by reducing heat gain, which is part of the values of sustainable design portion in the Project Surroundings and Public Outreach knowledge domain. SS Credit—Heat Island Reduction aims to reduce the problems caused by heat islands, which occur mostly in urban areas due to the abundance of constructed surfaces. See Figure 6-11. Constructed surfaces include

asphalt roads, parking lots, rooftops, and other hardscapes. The heat island effect increases microclimate temperatures and impacts wildlife species not adapted to the higher temperatures. The following strategies can be used to reduce the heat island effect. Reduce Exposed Hardscapes. Reducing exposed hardscapes includes installing green roofs; using open-grid paving; providing shade for the hardscapes using trees, foliage, landscaping, or other structures; and locating parking underground. These strategies reduce heat gain attributed to exposed hardscapes. Use High-Reflectance Materials. Paving surfaces should have a high solar reflectance (SR), and roof materials should have a high solar reflectance index (SRI). Utilizing roof and paving surfaces that have a high solar reflectance index (SRI) reflects sunlight and reduces heat absorption from the sun. Materials with a high SR or SRI are lightcolored, reflective surfaces. For example, white roofing surfaces and concrete are often used to reflect sunlight and reduce heat gain. See Figure 6-12.



F° 92 91 90 89 88 87 86 85


Figure 6-11. The heat island effect is the increase in temperatures over urban hardscapes as compared to neighboring rural areas of trees and vegetated land.

Chapter 6 — Sustainable Sites  101


Figure 6-12. White roofing materials have a high solar reflectance that allows them to stay cooler than dark roofing materials.

LIGHT POLLUTION A building’s dependence on artificial lighting can be greatly reduced during the day with the correct site orientation and design. However, buildings must use artificial lighting during nighttime hours to light parking lots, exterior walkways, and interior walkways for normal activities as well as safety purposes. Good lighting design addresses these factors while minimizing the three main forms of light pollution: uplight, glare, and light trespass. Uplight causes artificial sky glow. Glare is caused by high-angled front lighting. Light trespass is backlight caused by misdirecting light onto adjacent sites and in the opposite direction of the area intended to be lighted. These forms of light pollution can cause problems for nocturnal and migratory animals as well as disrupt the circadian rhythms, sleep patterns, melatonin production, and night vision in people. The SS category provides a point for reductions in light pollution.

Light Pollution Intents The intent of the credit in the SS category concerning light pollution is to avoid poor lighting design that creates light pollution and other environmental problems. The credit encourages project teams to design lighting systems that reduce common types of light pollution, such as light trespass, glare, and up-lighting. Properly designed lighting systems reduce the need for artificial lighting, save energy, and minimize light pollution. Light Pollution Strategies The strategies to meet the light pollution reduction credit requirements reflect the SS category knowledge domain of site design and development. SS Credit—Light Pollution Reduction encourages project teams to reduce the problems caused by light pollution. Smart lighting design can reduce light trespass significantly and includes the following strategies. See Figure 6-13.

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90˚ 80˚ 10% LIGHT OUTPUT ABOVE 80˚



Figure 6-13. Light pollution, such as uplight, is typically caused by the way light is emitted from lighting equipment and can be reduced by switching from upward-lighting to downward-lighting fixtures.

required. Areas where people may not be present for long periods of time are where motion sensors and timers typically work best. See Figure 6-14.

A downward light fixture that rotates with the flag is used on the top of a flagpole as opposed to an uplight from the ground.

Install Motion Sensors and Timers. Motion sensors and timers are lighting controls that, along with efficient light distribution design, reduce the amount of light at times and in places it is not

Eliminate Unnecessary Lighting. The elimination of unnecessary lighting can be accomplished by avoiding overlighting an area, locating fixtures appropriately, and choosing smart fixtures. Strategic lighting design will help eliminate overlight by locating fixtures appropriately and possibly reducing the number of fixtures required. Smart fixtures utilize proper shielding to focus light downward and to intended areas, may utilize motion sensors, and are BUG rated. The backlight, uplight, glare (BUG) rating method classifies luminaires according to their potential to generate light pollution. BUG ratings offer a quick and useful way for project teams to assess and select lighting options with minimal impact. See Figure 6-15. Option 1 of SS Credit—Light Pollution Reduction is to select luminaires with low BUG ratings.

Chapter 6 — Sustainable Sites  103


Figure 6-14. Timers allow automated control of outdoor lighting.















Figure 6-15. Backlight, uplight, and glare (BUG) ratings are used to classify luminaires and their likelihood of generating light pollution.

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104  LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide

From the


Name: Janet L. Attarian, AIA, LEED AP BD+C, Livable Streets Director for the Chicago Department of Transportation School: University of Michigan Program: Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning What have you accomplished with your work? I work to turn Chicago’s streetscapes, riverwalks, bike facilities, and plazas into great urban places. For over 15 years I have overseen the design and management of streetscape and urban design projects for Chicago. My most notable projects include the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT) Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines and Policies, the Congress Parkway reconstruction project, and the Millennium Park Bicycle Station (now McDonald’s Cycle Center). Combining the concepts of complete streets and ecological design in these projects led to the development of the Chicago’s Sustainable Streets and Green Alley Programs, including the groundbreaking Pilsen Sustainable Street. My commitment to community involvement and placemaking led to the development of the innovative Make Way for People Program, which supports innovation in the public way by opening Chicago’s streets, parking spots, plazas, and alleys to new programming and market opportunities via public and private partnerships. In addition to improving street safety and promoting walkable communities, this initiative supports economic development for Chicago’s local businesses and neighborhoods. I also participate in national and regional efforts to establish best practices for sustainable infrastructure design, including the University of California’s Pavement Research Center Pavement Life Cycle Assessment tool, and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Criteria and Tools for Sustainable Highways. I speak around the country about complete streets and sustainable infrastructure and my work has been featured in numerous publications including the New York Times and the FHWA’s Public Roads magazine. When did you receive the LEED AP credential? In 2012, with a BD+C specialty. Why did you pursue the credential? I wanted to get credentialed because I was working to create a meaningful definition and process for designing sustainable cities, sustainable infrastructure in particular. As an architect it was natural for me to look to the LEED rating system as a way to learn more about sustainability in general but also to become familiar with how to create processes to implement green infrastructure. It has given me a strong base of understanding, a familiarity with third-party verification, and standard mechanisms to track and calculate sustainable initiatives such as recycling, local materials, and construction waste management. Perhaps most importantly, it is an introduction to a common language around sustainable building design, which allows you to communicate with other professionals based on a clear set of defined terms and definitions. How has having the credential helped your career/life? LEED accreditation has helped my career by providing me with some of the technical knowledge needed to help lead the development of CDOT’s Sustainable Urban Infrastructure Guidelines and Policies. Do you have any test-taking tips? Take the time to read and digest all the material, rewrite the critical elements on paper, highlight the synergies and where and how things interrelate, and memorize as much of this as you can. If you give yourself enough time to do this, you will do fine.

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Key Terms and Definitions albedo: A metric to define the reflectivity of an object from darkest black to white using a scale from 0 to 1. aquifer: A body of saturated rock through which water can easily move. biodiversity: The variety of all life on earth including plants, animals, insects, micro-organisms, and humans. bioswale: A constructed rainwater control feature containing an engineered basin, soil, stone, and vegetation designed to reduce rainwater runoff and increase groundwater recharge. building footprint: The area of ground that the building occupies as defined by its perimeter. dry pond: An excavated area designed to hold rainwater during a rain event, but is dry when there is no precipitation. ecosystem: A complex set of interconnected relationships between the living organisms of a specific place that form a system, including plants, trees, animals, fish, birds, micro-organisms, water, soil, and humans. floor-area ratio (FAR): The density of nonresidential land use, exclusive of structured parking, measured as the total nonresidential building floor area divided by the total buildable land area available for nonresidential structures. green infrastructure (GI): The patchwork of natural areas that provide habitat, flood protection, clean air, and clean water at the scale of a city or county, or rainwater management systems that mimic nature by soaking up and storing water at the scale of a neighborhood or site. heat island effect: The absorption of solar heat by hardscapes such as roofs, roads, parking lots, and sidewalks, and includes other sources such as automobiles, HVAC equipment, and street and building lighting. impervious: The characteristic of a material preventing the penetration of liquids and/or gases. integrated pest management (IPM): A sustainable approach of controlling pest infestation and damage in an economical way while minimizing hazards to people, property, and the environment. light trespass: The spillage of light across a project boundary onto neighboring sites. low impact development (LID): A land management strategy that emulates natural systems to manage rainwater as close to its source as possible. native and adapted species: Plants that are either native to the region or have adapted to the region and require little to no irrigation. nonpoint source pollution: Water pollution caused by pollutants, such as gasoline, oil, salt, and fertilizers, which are washed into the nearest water bodies by rainwater runoff. pervious: The characteristic of a material allowing the penetration of liquids and/or gases. rain garden: A depressed area of ground containing soil, stone, and vegetation that is designed to catch and slow rainwater. rainwater harvesting: Precipitation captured with a cistern or other catchment device from outside the building for use in irrigation, flush fixtures, or building processes, but not for potable uses. rainwater runoff: Water from precipitation that runs off of impervious hardscapes in the built environment, such as sidewalks, roofs, and parking lots, into the nearest water bodies and sewer systems. solar reflectance index (SRI): A metric from 0 to 100 that measures how well a material reflects solar heat, with higher numbers signifying better reflectance. watershed: The area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes to the same place. xeriscaping: Landscaping designed to reduce or eliminate potable water use in irrigation through the planting of native and adapted species of vegetation and the use of other water-conserving techniques.

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Practice Questions 1. Select two of the following that are strategies to reduce light trespass: a. Install uplighting in parking lots to reduce the spillage of light across the project boundary. b. Schedule cleaning crews to work during the night to eliminate unnecessary lighting use during the day. c. Schedule cleaning crews to work during the day to eliminate unnecessary lighting use at night. d. Install downlighting in parking lots to reduce the spillage of light across the project boundary. e. Install motion sensors or timers to reduce the amount of time exterior lights stay on when they are not needed. 2. A project team is having difficulty reducing the amount of hardscape on a site. Select three strategies the project team could use to reduce rainwater runoff on the site: a. Harvest rainwater falling on the site using a rainwater harvesting system that collects, filters, and pipes harvested rainwater back into the building for all potable (drinking) uses. b. Install a vegetated roof. c. Use pervious concrete for all of the sidewalks. d. Harvest rainwater falling on the site using a rainwater harvesting system that pipes harvested rainwater to the nearest water body for use as clean surface water for swimming and fishing. e. Harvest rainwater falling on the site using a rainwater harvesting system that collects rainwater for irrigation. 3. Open space is defined as what in a LEED project? a. Exterior space that encourages interaction with the environment, social interaction, passive recreation, and physical activities. b. The space between the building perimeter and the perimeter of the project site boundary. c. Community interior space in a building that is not occupied by inhabitants all the time, such as lobbies, copy rooms, restrooms, janitorial closets, and break rooms. d. Space within the LEED project boundary that is open for credit interpretation. e. Space within the LEED project boundary that the credit requirements do not apply to because they would be cost prohibitive, such as soil remediation behind a building that previously housed leaky oil barrels. 4. Installing underground parking can achieve synergies across multiple credits by reducing what two environmental impacts? (select two) a. Light pollution b. Soil erosion c. Rainwater runoff d. Ozone depletion e. Heat island effect 5. Installing a vegetated or green roof can achieve synergies across multiple credits by reducing what two environmental impacts? (select two) a. Rainwater runoff b. Light pollution c. Heat island effect d. Soil erosion e. Ozone depletion

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LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition  

The LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition is designed to help you pass the LEED Green Associate™ exam. The exam prep...

LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition  

The LEED Green Associate™ Exam Preparation Guide, LEED v4 Edition is designed to help you pass the LEED Green Associate™ exam. The exam prep...

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