IA Details Differences in LEED v4

Photo: U.S. Green Building CouncilPhoto: U.S. Green Building Council

When it comes to meeting LEED v4 certification, landscapers might find themselves overwhelmed with the recent changes.

Since the U.S. Green Building Council announced the new LEED v4 in November, the Irrigation Association has specified the differences between LEED v4 and LEED 2009 when it comes to irrigation.

According to the organization, the key differences are point allocations:

Projects that want to earn LEED certification must satisfy prerequisites within each of LEED’s credit categories in order to earn points — the number of points a project earns determines its level of LEED. In the water-efficiency credit category, LEED v4 adds a mandatory requirement to reduce outdoor water use and three options to earn two points by reducing water use.

In LEED v4, projects can now use metering of irrigation systems to earn points. The latest version of LEED provides credit for projects installing submeters in two different areas where water is used. Landscape irrigation falls into one of these categories, with the installed meter monitoring water usage on at least 80 percent of the irrigated landscape.

In summary, LEED v4 offers the most points when projects do not install irrigation. This might be an option in regions that receive a fair amount of rainfall throughout the growing season, but it certainly isn’t an option in arid regions. These regions need irrigation to help establish plants and to assure that the landscape will be properly maintained to maximize the functional benefits it provides the building site.

Irrigation for future LEED projects will rely on water sources developed on-site, such as rain water harvesting and reclaiming or reusing water that has been used previously for irrigation. LEED is changing the way projects are designed, built and maintained, which also changes the way projects approach landscape and irrigation.

Because LEED v4 was released just a few months ago, the next few years will serve as a transition period in which projects move away from using LEED 2009. Until LEED 2009 is discontinued in 2015, projects are still able to determine which version they will follow to earn their LEED certification. IA members, Netafim USARain Bird Corporation and The Toro Company, have created online resources for projects following LEED 2009.

Water Efficiency Category

LEED 2009 New LEED v4

Reduce water use and earn two points by:

  • Option 1: Reduce potable water use by 50 percent through a combination of plant selection, irrigation efficiency and using nonpotable water sources (two points).
  • Option 2: Using no potable water and using only alternate water sources or installing a landscape that does not require a permanent irrigation system. Temporary systems, not to exceed 18 months, are acceptable.

Mandatory requirement to reduce outdoor water use by:

  • Option 1: Eliminating need for irrigation after a two-year establishment period.
  • Option 2: Reducing the project’s landscape water requirement by at least 30 percent for the peak watering month as calculated by using the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense Water Budget Tool.

Reduce water use and earn up to two points by:

  • Option 1: Eliminating need for irrigation after a two-year establishment period.
  • Option 2: Reducing the landscape water requirement by at least 50 percent by a combination of irrigation efficiency, use of alternative water sources and smart scheduling technologies (one point).
  • Option 3: Reducing the landscape water requirement by 100 percent (two points).
The Attachments Idea Book
Landscapers use a variety of attachments for doing everything from snow removal to jobsite cleanup, and regardless of how often they are used, every landscaper has a favorite attachment.
Attachments Idea Book Cover