Visitability and universal design | U.S. Green Building Council
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LEED ND: Plan | v4 - LEED v4

Visitability and universal design

Possible 1 point


To increase the proportion of areas usable by a wide spectrum of people, regardless of age or ability.


Case 1. projects with new dwelling units (1 point)

Design a minimum of 20% of the new dwelling units (but not less than one dwelling unit per type) in accordance with ICC A117.1, Type C, Visitable Unit, for each of the following residential building types:

  • detached single-dwelling-unit buildings;
  • attached single-dwelling-unit buildings; and
  • buildings with two or three dwelling units.

Each unit must also have a kitchen, living area, bedroom, and full bath on an accessible level.

For multiunit buildings with four or more dwelling units, design a minimum of 20% of the units (but not less than one) to meet the requirements of one of the following options. This category includes mixed-use buildings with dwelling units.

Option 1. universal design features throughout the home (1 point)

Throughout the home, include at least five of the following universal design features:

  • easy-to-grip lever door handles;
  • easy-to-grip cabinet and drawer loop handles;
  • easy-to-grip locking mechanisms on doors and windows;
  • easy-to-grip single-lever faucet handles;
  • easy-touch rocker or hands-free switches;
  • motion-detector lighting at entrance, in hallways and stairwells, and in closets, and motion-detector light switches in garages, utility spaces, and basements;
  • large, high-contrast print for controls, signals, and the house or unit numbers;
  • a built-in shelf, bench, or table with knee space below, located outside the entry door with weather protection overhead, such as porch or stoop with roof, awning, or other overhead covering;
  • a minimum 32-inch (80-centimeter) clear door opening width for all doorways;
  • tread at the entrance, on stairs, and other areas where slipping is common, with color contrast difference between stair treads and risers; and
  • interior floor surfaces (e.g., low-pile carpets, hard-surface flooring) that provide easy passage for a wheelchair or walker, with color contrast between floor surfaces and trim; no carpet is permitted in a kitchen, bathroom, or other wet areas of the dwelling unit.
  • OR

    Option 2. kitchen features (1 point)

    On the main floor of the home (or on another floor, if an elevator or stair lift is provided), provide a kitchen with hard-surface flooring, plumbing with single-lever controls, a 5-foot (1.5-meter) turning radius, and at least four of the following universal design features:

    • variable-height (28- to 42-inch [70- to 110-centimeter]) or adjustable work surfaces, such as countertops, sinks, and cooktops;
    • clear knee space under sink and cooktops (this requirement can be met by installing removable base cabinets or fold-back or self-storing doors), cooktops and ranges with front or side-mounted controls, and wall-mounted ovens at a height to accommodate a seated adult;
    • a toe kick area at the base of lower cabinets with a minimum height of 9 inches (23 centimeters), and full-extension drawers and shelves in at least half (by volume) of the cabinets;
    • contrasting color treatment between countertops, front edges, and floor;
    • adjustable-height shelves in wall cabinets; and
    • glare-free task lighting.


    Option 3. bedroom and bathroom features (1 point)

    On the main floor of the building (or on another floor, if an elevator or stair lift is provided), include all of the following:

    In at least one accessible bedroom,

    • Size the room to accommodate a twin bed with a 5-foot (1.5-meter) turning radius around the bed.
    • Install a clothes closet with a 32-inch (80-centimeter) clear opening with adjustable-height closet rods and shelves.
    • In at least one full bathroom on the same floor as the bedroom,

    • Provide adequate maneuvering space with a 30-by-48-inch (75-by-120 centimeter) clear floor space at each fixture.
    • Center the toilet 18 inches (45 centimeters) from any side wall, cabinet, or tub, and allow a 3-foot (90-centimeter) clear space in front.
    • Install broad blocking in walls around toilet, tub, and/or shower for future placement and relocation of grab bars.
    • Provide knee space under the lavatory (this requirement may be met by installing removable base cabinets or fold-back or self-storing doors).
    • Install a long mirror whose bottom is no more than 36 inches (90 centimeters) above the finished floor and whose top is at least 72 inches (180 centimeters) high.
    • In addition, all bathrooms must have hard-surface flooring, all plumbing fixtures must have single-lever controls, and tubs or showers must have hand-held showerheads.

      Case 2. projects with noncompliant routes and no new dwelling units (1 point)

      This case applies to projects that have no new residential units and are either (1) retrofitting existing public rights-of-way or publicly accessible travel routes that are not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, for private sector and local and state government facilities) or the Architectural Barriers Act (ABA, for federally funded facilities), or (2) building new publicly accessible travel routes that are not legally required to meet ADA-ABA accessibility guidelines.

      Design, construct, or retrofit 90% of the rights-of-way and travel routes in accordance with the ADA-ABA accessibility guidelines, as applicable, or local equivalent for projects outside the U.S., whichever is more stringent.

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