Site Work

Preserve the assets of your site.
Prior to construction or site modification, closely examine and inventory the natural site assets. Analyze your site to find the area that would provide the least disruption to the existing ecosystems. Strive to preserve the genuine assets of the land, such as old growth trees and plant communities, which have ecological, aesthetic and economic values.

Avoid locating structures on unstable soils and steep slopes, which once disturbed will result in increased erosion. Observe where low-lying riparian vegetation begins and ends. Make it a goal to preserve these areas, which are among the most important assets to a site. The vegetation situated along waterways is a built in run-off filter for pesticides and other pollutants used on the site, and it holds the soil in place, preventing erosion.

Examine the relationship that your site plays in larger habitat corridors.
Look outside of your individual property lines and observe the surrounding landscape. Take into consideration the link your site provides to existing wildlife habitat corridors. A wildlife corridor is a route along which animals move to feed, breed and migrate. Keeping these pieces of land connected is essential to maintaining habitats critical to support wildlife. Riparian belts along rivers and streams, where species migrate and commingle, are especially important corridors.

Let the existing lay of the land inform your water storage solutions.
As retaining water on-site becomes more important in the Bay Area, observe where the natural low-lying areas exist on your site. Rather than grading these areas flat, integrate them into your overall stormwater storage plan.

Maintain the original grade by using variable elevations.
Grading a sloped site flat to attain single elevation buildings and parking lots creates excessive erosion and pollution associated with earth-moving equipment. Using variable building and parking lot elevations can avoid this. An alternative to one large parking lot is to create several smaller parking lots with planting areas in between them. If the planting areas are remnants from the original undisturbed site, these areas will aid in filtering erosion and pollution associated with construction. In addition to the enhanced aesthetics, the plants will help to shade the cars and to clean the pollutants such as oil from the parking lot.

Phase construction to minimize exposed soils and on-site erosion.
Undeveloped natural areas are able to absorb some of the runoff and pollutants generated during construction. Phased construction reduces exposed soils, on-site erosion and off-site sediment transport. In addition, reduced clearing and grading requires smaller grading equipment, which lessens the extent of areas affected by compaction and other disturbances.

Properly contain soil during construction.
This will help to reduce the amount of sediment that flows into local streams.

Create plant protection zones rather than just individual trees.
Damage to tree limbs, trunks, and roots is common during construction. This damage can be fatal immediately, or delayed for up to ten years following the construction. By properly protecting plant material, we can help to ensure a continued healthy lifespan.

Plant protection zones should encompass entire landforms and plant communities, not just individual trees. These areas also help to capture and infiltrate storm water and erosion during construction. Place protection barriers beyond tree drip lines to avoid soil compaction. Additional ways to avoid soil compaction is to not park vehicles or equipment, or store heavy materials within the root zone of trees. All staging areas should be located away from trees. Avoid trenching within the drip line of any mature tree.

Establish construction site recycling plan.
Materials from construction and demolition of buildings make up 12% of the waste going to the landfill, yet these materials could be easily recycled or reused. Each construction site should designate and label specific areas for brick, concrete, clean wood, cardboard, plastic, and metals separation or plans should be made to take all waste to a Construction and Demolition sorting facility. For more information on recycling and salvaging, visit the Construction and Demolition section.

Get LEED credits.
The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED ™) Green Building Rating System provides standards by which a building can be considered "green." Their rating system includes credits for reduced site disturbance and proper stormwater management. More information on LEED.