LEED Credit Categories – Sustainable Sites

Today’s article, as promised, we will cover the Sustainable Sites credit category of LEED’s v4.1 building certification criteria. As part of our commitment to greener and more sustainable building materials and strategies, we would also like to inform you about the processes and reasons behind our direction.

Some of the goals aligned with the Sustainable Sites Credit Category, in no particular order:

Construction Activity Pollution Prevention

In the construction design process, making determinations that would identify and mitigate control factors in soil erosion, waterway sedimentation and dust. A permit usually is filed with a required plan to identify and determine remediation and mitigation strategies.

Site Assessment

Creating a plan to determine the current environmental situations and evaluate options and decisions made and how those decisions were arrived. Several topic requirements are of focus when going through the assessment process:

Topography – Mapping, identifying features in the site and determining risks.

Hydrology – Determining flood zones, bodies of water, pervious surfaces that provide drainage and rainwater collection/reuse.

Climate – Solar Exposure and Shade, Heat Island Impact, Sun angles, Prevaling Winds and weather factors.

Vegetation – Focus on primary vegetation types, Greenfields, Tree Mapping, also concerns on issues with endangered plant species.

Species – Invasive plant species, EPA Level 3 description.

Soils – Determining the situation with soil on the site.

Human Use – Views, transportation and commuting, bicycle access, uses and construction materials with existing recycle of reuse.

Human Health Effects – Vulnerabilities in certain populations, physical activity opportunities and proximity to sources of pollution.

Protect or Restore Habitat 

This credit factor is for conserving as much natural land and resource in terms of plant life, wildlife. Also covers restoring damaged and used lands to natural plant and wildlife usage, including green roofs and gardens.

Open Space

In order to earn a point from Open space, your site needs to provide at least 30% outdoor space of the total area, including the footprint of your building.

Rainwater Management

To help mitigate runoff volume and improve the quality of water by improving the hydrology aspect and balance of the site.

Heat Island Reduction

Points are rewarded to help mitigate the phenomenon known as heat islands, where particular regions deal with higher temperatures due to man or nature generated actions.

Light Pollution Reduction

To improve reduction of light pollution, to be able to see a starry night sky and reduce the consequences of development for wildlife and people.

Nontoxic Pest Control

Determinations in utilizing measures in pest control and mediation with the least amount of negative environmental impact. Credited in using safe, natural methods to mitigate any pest infestation.

Environmental Site Assessment

An assessment to determine if there were any contaminents or accidents that would adversely impact the environment negatively. Also determines if said site is contaminated, the measures involved to clean up and meet local, state and national EPA codes.

Direct Exterior Access

This covers the healthcare subpart of the Sustainable Sites category, with an emphasis on patients in a medical facility having access to an outdoor feature, rather it is a courtyard, terrace, garden or a balcony structure. Also provides exemptions as well for those in emergency care, limited mobility and other criteria.

Places of Respite

Another healthcare credit area in Sustainable Sites, This expands the conversation on exterior access and providing a clean, safe and beneficial outdoor environment. Also to provide areas which embrace and directly view natural features.


VRC Management LLC is a member of the United States Green Building Council. If you are interested in finding out more information or looking to get started in your own dream renovation project, call Jozef at 312 320-3838



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