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American Society of Landscape Architects


April 2004 Issue

Integrated Water Conservation Strategies for LEED Points
Stormwater alternatives as an opportunity for landscape architects..
By Heather Kinkade-Levario

Integrated Water Conservation Strategies for LEED Points Heather Kinkade-Levario

Of the many design flaws typical in commercial and residential development, the destruction of natural hydrologic regimes is one of the worst. Project after project eliminates natural vegetation, overemphasizes impervious pavement, and disposes of stormwater through underground pipes. These widely accepted practices thwart infiltration, increase runoff quantity and quality, and raise ambient air and surface water temperatures. The resulting detrimental effects on water bodies, aquifers, wildlife habitat, and human quality of life are well documented

A group of environmentally sensitive stormwater management techniques, closely allied with the field of landscape architecture, can transform the practice of land development. Three strategies—low-impact site development, rainwater harvesting, and stormwater reuse—have been proven to increase a site's ecological and hydrologic function and thus improve watershed health.

In addition to ecological benefits, these strategies offer important practical advantages. They satisfy best-management-practice requirements for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits, necessary for all developments larger than one acre, and reduce development costs (sometimes up front but almost always over the life of the project). Finally, implementing these alternative stormwater management techniques can help a project gain points under the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy Efficient Design (LEED) program, a set of guidelines for sustainable development that offers important opportunities for landscape architects..

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