Water Conservation Strategies for LEED Points
High- and low-tech strategies for saving water.
By Eric D. Davis, ASLA
Green Roofs for Healthy Cities and Balmori Associates
Landscape architects who understand efficient irrigation practices can gain
points in the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental
Design (LEED) accreditation structure. As mentioned in “Waste Not, Want Not”
(Landscape Architecture, March 2005), high-efficiency irrigation systems
can earn designers LEED Water Efficiency Credits 1.1 and 1.2. For Credit 1.1,
which requires a 50 percent reduction in the amount of potable water the landscape
uses, the landscape architect can design an irrigation system using low-volume
irrigation or micro-irrigation. For Credit 1.2, the irrigation system must
be supplied from a nonpotable water source, such as captured rainwater, storage
ponds, or a graywater system.
While these two points may be necessary for a project to achieve a higher
LEED certification level, a well-designed irrigation system can contribute
additional credits and points. To design an irrigation system that supports
these other credits, landscape architects must take a holistic approach and
view irrigation as a building system that extends beyond the architectural
envelope. Designers must see the irrigation system as part of the site’s infrastructure
and must fully understand its relationships with the water supply and the
stormwater and electrical systems. This holistic approach reflects the structure
of the LEED rating system, which requires a thorough understanding of the
natural and built systems of a project. It also supports the intention of
the two additional credits the irrigation system may support.
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