Sustainable Sites

If it's on a poorly selected site, can it still be a green project? In general the answer is yes, but green building assessment systems such as LEED give guidance for site selection. The goal is to develop only on appropriate sites and to avoid the environmental impacts of locating on poorly chosen sites. Green building projects should avoid locating buildings, hardscape (paved surfaces for landscaping such as plazas and walkways), roads or parking areas on sites that:

• Are previously undeveloped and less than five feet below the 100-year flood level (this requirement can be met in portions of older cities situated alongside rivers or lakes that are already developed and that are in the 100-year flood plain; the LEED requirement covers only previously undeveloped sites).

• Are located on prime farmland (this point would not be available for a lot of suburban development that is gobbling up prime farmland all over the country).

• Are within 100 feet of a wetland, as defined by state and federal regulations, or at a greater distance, as provided for under local laws or zoning ordinances, even if previously developed.

• Are designated as habitat for any threatened or endangered species (this is generally prohibited anyway by state and federal laws).

• Are located on previously undeveloped land that is within 50 feet of a water body, defined as seas, lakes, rivers, streams and tributaries that support or could support fish, recreation or industrial use (the idea here is to keep buffer zones around water bodies so that the public can access them, and so that development has lesser impacts by being set back).

• Are situated on land that prior to acquisition for the project was public parkland, unless land of equal value as parkland is accepted in trade by the public landowner (local, state or federal park projects are still allowed to build, for example, visitor centers to green building standards).

In addition to site selection rules, LEED also encourages projects to locate in areas of higher density with at least two-story development (60,000 square feet per acre or more) in the surrounding area or to locate in areas that have a number of important services available to residents of apartments or occupants of offices and shops. In this way, the infrastructure will already be in place, and with enough services accessible within a walkable distance (half a mile or less), people will be encouraged not to drive to get to such essential services as a drug store, convenience store, bank, dry cleaner, park, doctor's offices, schools, restaurants, department store or mall, child care and health clubs or fitness centers.

I worked in downtown Portland for nine years and found it absolutely delightful to take care of life's many small errands on my way to work, during a coffee break, during the lunch hour and right after work. When I drove to work, which was not often, my car would often stay parked for the entire day, and I could still get everything done on foot. It was a much healthier way to live than working in the suburbs and having to drive everywhere.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

How would you like to save a ton of money and increase the value of your home by as much as thirty percent! If your homes landscape is designed properly it will be a source of enjoyment for your entire family, it will enhance your community and add to the resale value of your property. Landscape design involves much more than placing trees, shrubs and other plants on the property. It is an art which deals with conscious arrangement or organization of outdoor space for human satisfaction and enjoyment.

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