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American Society of Landscape Architects

 

June 2005 Issue

Water Conservation Strategies for LEED Points
High- and low-tech strategies for saving water.

By Eric D. Davis, ASLA

Water Conservation Strategies for LEED Points
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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