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LEED Study Guide

# LEED Study Guide

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10/17/2013

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The best strategy to reduce the heat island effect is to minimize the development
footprint. Smaller parking lots, roads, and roofs result in fewer areas of darker material
to absorb sunlight. The harder or more unnatural surfaces will cause more heat than a
site where there are fewer hardscape surfaces or where they are grouped. This is a good
way to practice the green building concept – if the site does not create many surfaces that
later have to be covered or shaded, then less work is needed to limit the heat island effect.
This also meets the goal of stormwater runoff. The goals are similar in that fewer
hardscape surfaces will reduce stormwater runoff and help the team achieve a more
sustainable design.

The building footprint can also be reduced to allow for more open space. Build a taller
three-story building instead of a wider two-story building. Consider the zoning issues
during design:

Floor area ratio

The floor area ratio (FAR) is the ratio of the total floor area of buildings on a certain
location to the size of the land of that location, or the limit imposed on such a ratio.

© 2011 Green Building Education Services

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FAR = the total building square footage (building area) divided by the site size square
footage (site area).

The easiest way to explain this is with some examples:

Example 1: Consider a big box retail store with a large parking lot. The actual building
may take up only 1/4 of the project site and the other 3/4 is paved for parking spaces.
The FAR would be 0.25.

Example 2: A one story building takes up the entire project site. This would be a FAR of
1.0. Usually there is not a FAR of exactly 1.0 because the project has sidewalks and
easements for the utility lines. A FAR of 0.8 or 0.9 would be more common.

Example 3: A two story building takes up 1/2 the lot. If the site is 20,000 SF and each
floor is 10,000 SF (there are 2 floors) the FAR of 1.0.

Example 3: A two story building is built over the entire lot OR a four story building is
built on 1/2 the lot. This is a FAR of 2.0.

The floor area ratio can be used in zoning to limit the amount of construction in a certain
area. For example, if the relevant zoning ordinance permits construction on a parcel, and
if construction must adhere to a 0.10 floor area ratio, then the total area of all floors in all
buildings constructed on the parcel must be no more than one-tenth the area of the parcel
itself.

One of the objectives of green building is to build ‘up’ rather than ‘out’, thereby having a
smaller building footprint to maximize open space and promote biodiversity. For
example instead of having a 1 story building with a 10,000 SF footprint design a 2 story
building with a 5,000 SF footprint. Both designs have 10,000 SF of total floor area but
the 2 story building has a smaller footprint.

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