The intent of this credit is to avoid the development of inappropriate sites and reduce the environmental impact from the location of a building on a site. This project clearly meets the requirements of all of the criteria listed, with the exception of the requirement not to build roads, parking or buildings within 100' of any wetland area. This project met the intent of the rule, to avoid impact to any existing wetland area, through a careful design effort that fulfilled the Massachusetts State-authorized local Conservation Commission Order of Conditions. This legally-binding Order is required to be met of all projects in Massachusetts, specifically for the purpose of protecting existing water resources, including wetlands, and requires protection measures and mitigation measures consistent with Best-Practice management, including a 50 foot no-build buffer zone and a 100 foot limited-build buffer zone. Can meeting this Order of Conditions, in addition to wetlands habitat enhancements and other measures described below, be considered equivalent to meeting the 100 foot no-build buffer requirement of this credit?
The green-charrette notes from this project relative to this credit reads in part as follows:
.The site that has been chosen for the Elementary School borders a wetland area. The site will include a buffer zone to protect the wetlands. [The landscape architect, civil engineer, and architect] will design to ensure the health of the wetlands is not jeopardized.
The final design and construction of the project fulfilled this goal. The project conforms to the "Order of Conditions" of the Town's Conservation Commission (a Massachusetts law requires a local Conservation Commission approval of any project to protect the water resource) that includes a 50' no-build buffer zone and a 100' limited-build buffer. (At the time that site design was finalized and approved by the Conservation Commission, in July of 2000, this was the more restrictive requirement, as LEED 2.0 was not published until 2001.)
In addition to observing the buffer zones, many wetland mitigation/protection measures were implemented, including the following: no net increase in rate or volume of stormwater discharged into the existing water resource; silt-fence and hay-bale site boundary during construction; the elimination of an existing gravel roadway that lay within the 50' no-build buffer zone; an extension of the wetland habitat and groundwater re-charge area into a new above-ground storm-water management system with a wetland planting mix.
The overall Area of the site is 434,950 SF. The overall area that is unsdisturbed native/adaptive (of which a significant portion is wetland) is 200,886 SF. The new stormwater management wetland habitat planting area is 11,600 SF, or a little more than 1/4 of an acre, the overall wetland planting area added to the site is 23,086 SF. This new area overlaps the wetland buffer zone and effectively extends the wetland habitat. A wetland education effort is also underway with the school's students.
The program requirements for the 92,000SF school building and play space, and the requirement that the entry drive be located directly across the street from an existing intersection for traffic safety, meant that the building footprint encroaches a total of 1050 s.f. and the hardscape site work encroaches a total of 7,700 s.f. into the 100 foot buffer zone. The total area within the 100' buffer disturbed during construction was 29,700 s.f. A 50' no activity zone was maintained around the wetland. Construction did not affect any of the bordering vegetated wetlands.
The credit language allows the use of local laws or regulations providing they are more stringent than the 100 foot requirement. The requirement in this case appears to be less stringent because it allows some development within 50 feet of the wetland. Previous CIRs, such as SSc1 7/21/2003, state that mitigation is not an acceptable alternative to achieving this credit. Based on the information provided, the credit would not be achieved. Applicable Internationally.
Related Addenda (Corrections & Interpretations)