ID#5326 made on
SSc1 - Site selection
LEED BD+C: Schools
The project is an elementary school just outside of Portland, Oregon that is located within the Urban Growth Boundary of the Oregon Land Use Planning Program and seeks an alternative compliance path f...
The project is an elementary school just outside of Portland, Oregon that is located within the Urban Growth Boundary of the Oregon Land Use Planning Program and seeks an alternative compliance path for satisfying the "Prime Farmland" criterion of SS Credit 1 - Site Selection. According to Portland Metro website, the Urban Growth Boundary "is one of the tools used to protect farmland and forests from urban sprawl and to promote the efficient use of land, public facilities, and services inside the boundary". Oregon's landmark Land Use Planning Program was established in 1973 and is unique in the US. It has a proven track record across the state for concentrating growth within urban areas and protecting farm and forest lands. It is nationally renowned, and many other states have tried to replicate it. The Urban Growth Boundary is a cornerstone strategy of Oregon's Land Use Planning Program that is a comprehensive overlay taking into consideration resource values and surrounding development patterns. The scope of the Urban Growth Boundary is the Portland tri-county region and it is overseen by Oregon's Land Conservation and Development Commission, a level of cooperation and shared governance in land use planning that is not replicated elsewhere in the US. Goal 3 of the Agricultural Lands section of the of the Oregon Land Use Planning Program is not focused on "Prime Farmland", as only 13% of Oregon's farmland (according to 1000 Friends of Oregon) meets the USDA definition of "Prime Farmland". Instead it focuses on protecting relatively large, contiguous blocks of farmland that are necessary for maintaining economically viable farms and minimizing potential incompatible nearby land uses, such as low-density urban and suburban development. We propose that the Oregon Land Use Planning Program and its Urban Growth Boundary tool is more locally-relevant, effective, and stringent than the USDA definition of "Prime Farmland" in terms of avoiding development of inappropriate sites, which is the stated intent of SS Credit 1 Site Selection. Even though the "Prime Farmland" definition is a great metric for areas without such comprehensive planning to protect farmland and forests, it is not nearly as relevant in our context and works against the stronger framework in place within the Urban Growth Boundary (outside the Urban Growth Boundary it would still apply). By focusing development within the Urban Growth Boundary, the Oregon Land Use Planning Program promotes density and protects from urban sprawl. Since our project meets all other criteria for SSc1 Site Selection besides the Prime Farmland criterion, it is our belief that we have achieved this credit and we would like confirmation from the USGBC that we will be awarded this credit so long as we provide documentation about the Oregon Land Use Planning Program, the Urban Growth Boundary, and prove our site is within the Urban Growth Boundary.
The applicant seeks exemption from the prohibition to build on prime farmland because their site is located within an Urban Growth Boundary. The existence of the Urban Growth Boundary, however, does not diminish the importance of prime farmland. The LEED-NC v2.0 & 2.1 Administrative Inquiry CIR ruling dated 10/18/2004 for SSc1 is applicable and states, "The building site is prime farmland, as defined by the USDA, and thus does not meet the credit's requirements. The circumstances involving mixed uses, growth planning and farmland preservation are all positive factors, but cannot be used as a proxy for avoiding development on prime farmland." Applicable Internationally.
Related Addenda (Corrections & Interpretations)