Users can document the USGBC LEED (BD+C: Core and Shell v4 - LEED v4) credit for Surrounding Density using information embedded inside the 3d maps accessed through cove.tool. Although cove.tool does not yet generate a list of the context buildings, all the data needed is readily available.

Before we begin

LEED documentation for this credit will require two components:

  • Excel document for the FAR and density calculations
  • Adobe Illustrator/InDesign drawing to map out individual context buildings

An excel file can be set up to document the surrounding density data. This can vary as per preference. An example is presented below where the combined density is being calculated. Certain projects may instead calculate separate residential and nonresidential densities. Both these options can be supported by the data available in cove.tool.

LEED also requires a detailed map with all the surrounding buildings clearly identified. This can typically be done by extracting a Google map image of the project location. Overlay the project boundary and offset it to cover a 1/4 mile area around the project. In this drawing, each building/property lot can be numbered i.e assigned a Map ID that allows cross-referencing with the excel document.

Once these two base documents are ready, we can begin extracting information from cove.tool.

Step 1: Select Location and Upload Geometry

Start a project in cove.tool and upload building geometry using any of the plugins from the app store. Be sure to enter the exact location of the project as the surrounding data will be centered around it. This can be entered either as a site address or latitude/longitude coordinates on the Project page.

Step 2: View surrounding map

Once completed, navigate to the 3D Analysis page to access the map. Here the surrounding context buildings and embedded Property Line data can be accessed.

Cove.tool automatically generates context data for approximately 1 mile around the project address. The context map, buildings, and property lines are sourced from MapBox. All of these can be toggled on/off easily using the element selection buttons to the right of the 3D scene.

Step 3: Access property line data

Zoom into individual areas of the map to access the data for that zone. Make sure the property lines are turned on. Toggle to a 2D view (top-left corner) for ease of mapping. Details of the information available can be found in this article.

Step 4: Fill out data in the excel document

The information to be filled into the excel document can be sourced from the data available in the pop-up window for each property. Fields mentioned in italics are those found in cove.tool:

  • Location: Site address
  • Map ID: Number identifier of a context building. Based on the Land Use Class it can be determined whether the property is residential (R) or commercial/non-residential (NR)
  • Gross Floor Area: Building area (sqft)
  • Buildable Land Area (acres): Deeded acreage

The remaining fields can be filled in using simple formulae:

  • Buildable Land Area (sqft) = Buildable Land Area (acres) x 43,560 sqft
  • Combined Density (sqft/acre) = Gross Floor Area (sqft) / Buildable Land Area (acres)
  • Floor Area Density or FAR = Gross Floor Area (sqft) / Buildable Land Area (sqft)

Step 5: Cross-reference context drawing and Compile Documentation

Make sure to keep track of the Map ID and Land Use Class for each surrounding building, and mark it on the drawing that will accompany the excel document. Compile these two documents along with a narrative to submit.

With this method, users will have used data from cove.tool to document the surrounding density for LEED certification.

Happy Modeling!

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