Module 2: Location, Transportation, and Sustainable Sites

Module 2: Location, Transportation, and Sustainable Sites

Authored by EcoRise

Essential questions: 
What are the principles of smart growth and how do they relate to the triple bottom line?
What are some specific applications of smart-growth principles?
How can I apply smart-growth principles I learn throughout this module to create a sustainable design for a local property?
What is a greenfield, and why aren’t greenfields always suitable for a LEED project?
What is a brownfield, and why are brownfields often suitable for a LEED project?
What are some examples of common landscaping strategies that are not sustainable? that are sustainable?
How does rainwater runoff affect pervious and impervious surfaces differently?
What impacts can rainwater have on infrastructure and the environment, and how can low-impact development strategies help counter these impacts?
What is the heat island effect and what impacts does it have?
What is the difference between solar reflectance (SR) and the solar reflectance index (SRI)?
How can sustainable transportation options benefit people and the environment?

LESSON 2.1: Building Together
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students examine 10 guiding principles of smart growth and relate them to sustainability and the triple bottom line. Students then consider how they might apply principles of smart growth to their own community. They work in groups to choose a location within the community that is suitable for a new development and analyze, describe, and sketch how they could use the principles of smart growth to improve the property and beyond. This design becomes the basis for a Development Design Portfolio they continue to refine and expand throughout Module 2. This first lesson also lays the foundation for key principles of the LEED Green Associate Exam, Location and Transportation and Sustainable Sites Knowledge Domains.

LESSON 2.2: Greening Brownfields
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students focus on key strategies related to the LEED Location and Transportation and Sustainable Sites Credit Categories. They explore what sorts of development locations to look for, which ones to avoid, and how applying strategies to protect and enhance the environment surrounding a building can transform degraded lands, or “brownfields,” into “greenfields.” They also look at numerous other ways to make a development one that enhances the community and surrounding environment. Then they rejoin their teams from Lesson 2.1 and update the Development Design Portfolio they began in that lesson to add key new strategies.

LESSON 2.3: Greenscaping
(Estimated time needed: Two 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students evaluate strategies for creating sustainable landscapes by following cues from the local natural environment. They learn xeriscaping techniques; the value of planting native, locally adapted species; and the characteristics and benefits of wetlands. Then they work in teams to add effective landscapes to the Development Design Portfolio from previous lessons. Their goal is to minimize hardscapes, maximize biodiversity, and incorporate site-management strategies and conservation plans to create sustainable sites. This exercise prepares students for the Sustainable Sites Knowledge Domain of the LEED Green Associate Exam.

LESSON 2.4: Managing Rainwater
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students complete a lab activity to compare the effects of rainwater runoff on natural and impervious surfaces. Then they investigate how poorly managed rainwater and acid precipitation can negatively impact infrastructure and the environment and how low-impact development strategies, in contrast, can facilitate the sustainable management of rainwater. Students then apply what they’ve learned to the smart-growth designs they began in previous lessons.

LESSON 2.5: Curbing the Heat
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students explore the “heat island effect.” They begin by conducting an experiment to examine the heat absorption of different materials. Then they define the heat island effect and explore its impacts in developed areas in greater detail. They look at how green roofs and other green building techniques can reduce the heat island effect and make communities more sustainable. They also learn about evapotranspiration and propose strategies for promoting evapotranspiration on a property. Finally, students rejoin their groups from previous lessons to apply what they’ve learned to their evolving Development Design Portfolio.

LESSON 2.6: Integrating Transportation
(Estimated time needed: Three 55-minute sessions)
In this lesson, students examine a variety of transportation options that can improve the sustainability of a development. Then student teams regroup to incorporate sustainable transportation options, such as accommodations for alternative transportation vehicles, carpooling programs, and bike lanes, into their smart-growth designs. The lesson helps motivate students to consider taking advantage of sustainable transportation options themselves as it gives them an in-depth understanding of the four credits related to transportation in the LEED Location and Transportation Credit Category.

Supplementary References
Every LEED Prep lesson includes references in the Assess section to the GBES LEED v4 Green Associate Exam Preparation Study Guide (when relevant), the LEED Green Associate Candidate Handbook (for Task and Knowledge Domains), and LEED Impact Categories. Those resources are included here, along with other references students may find helpful in preparing for the LEED Green Associate Exam.