Public comment sessions to improve the SITES and LEED v4 guidelines
A new year is quickly approaching, and with it comes the rollout of the updated (and hopefully, improved) LEED v4 and the first official guidelines for SITES (Sustainable Site Systems), following the revisions resulting from comments by…YOU! It’s nearing the end of the public comment period for both LEED and SITES, but there is still time for your voice to be heard, and it’s much easier than one would anticipate.
To illustrate, I will admit that the e-mail for the extension of the public comment period for SITES sat flagged in my e-mail box for nearly three weeks. It seemed too daunting. However, like many of my peers, I have complained about the flaws in the Sites portion of LEED and SITES offers landscape architects the unique opportunity to have a rating system specifically designed to reflect and reward the efforts we put forth in designing sustainable landscapes. With that in mind, I bit the bullet this past week and downloaded the commenting packet.
It was straightforward and simple! In 15 minutes, I had commented on three credits. If I wanted to comment on all of them, I could have. If I wanted to comment on only one, I could have. That is the beauty of this process – the professional can comment on the credits they feel the mostly strongly about in terms of needed revisions and/or the ones they feel their expertise can help lead to a stronger credit. You don’t have to do it all in one sitting, either. Your account saves what you have entered and you can go back as often as you want to edit until the public commenting period has ended on November 26th.
For those of us familiar with LEED, you will also notice much of the language is pulled directly from LEED guidelines (and in many of the footnotes, it even refers to the specific LEED credits it is sourced from). This was by design; we will continue to see these systems intertwine, but the availability of SITES will allow projects without buildings, or where buildings are secondary, to have a strong stand alone rating system – but only if we help make it a worthwhile system with our professional feedback. That being said, due to the similar language and ideology, why not also participate in the LEED commenting period, while you are already in the mood – you will find that if you already have your USGBC login, it is extremely straightforward and you can selectively comment.
We have a professional obligation to participate in these commenting periods; to help hold each other accountable for creating designs that will improve the quality of life on a larger, interconnected scale. These rating systems may not be the measuring stick that we use for sustainability, often wishing to go above and beyond, but they are a good starting point and a great way to help educated our clients about why some of our design decisions are worthwhile investments.
What are you waiting for? Both systems are aiming to have revised guidelines out mid-2013.
SITES public commenting period ends on November 26th. Start here.
LEED v4 public comment period ends December 10th. Go here.
by Lauren DuCharme, ASLA, LEED AP