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March 2005 Issue

Waste Not, Want Not
Water-conserving irrigation methods save water and gain LEED credits.

By Eric D. Davis, ASLA

Waste Not. Want Not
DIG Irrigation Products

In 2002, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released Version 2.1 of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, commonly referred to as LEED. This latest publication from the USGBC provides guidelines governing all new and renovation construction as well as a definition of sustainable, or “green,” construction. Projects that follow the guidelines can achieve various levels of accreditation from the USGBC. For each guideline that the design team follows, one or more multiple credits are awarded. The USGBC uses the aggregate total of these credits to award projects certified, silver, gold, or platinum accreditation.

Many landscape architects provide assistance to project teams trying to achieve a certain certification level. To gain a credit in the LEED section governing Water Efficiency, many allied professionals will seek out landscape architects to design landscapes using native or low-water-consumption plantings and to specify and design water-efficient irrigation systems. But many landscape architects are not aware of the nuances and potential pitfalls of designing irrigation systems that contribute to LEED credits. In some cases, landscape architects are losing points because either they do not have the technical knowledge regarding irrigation system design or they are designing irrigation systems that will not support plants or that will become a maintenance nightmare for the project owner.

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