Ensuring ecosystem sustainability by protecting habitats is the goal of proposed requirements for ASHRAE’s green building standard.

“The intent of the proposal is to maintain or restore a minimum level of biodiversity including bio-diverse plantings, native plants and limited turf grass,” said Anthony Floyd, a member of the committee working on the standard. “Supporting and maintaining the biodiversity is critical to the long term health and sustainability of ecosystems of which humans and all life depend on for existence. Sustainable development recognizes and attempts to account for the interdependencies of ecosystems in the human built environment. Hence, Standard 189.1 addresses biodiversity at the building site level in recognition of these interdependencies.”

The American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineer’s Standard 189.1, “Standard for the Design of High-Performance, Green Buildings Except Low-Rise Residential Buildings,covers site sustainability, water-use efficiency, energy ef­ficiency, indoor environmental quality and building impact.

It is also endorsed by U.S. Green Building Council and the Illuminating Engineering Society.

A proposed addendum covers the native plant definition, renames the plant section landscape design, and has minimum native plant area requirements.

Overall, it is a major cleaning of the existing section, Floyd said.

“Native plants provide habitat for animals that non-native plants have not evolved to provide,” said Susan Gitlin, another member of the standards committee. “The benefits that native plants provide are irreplaceable and essential in our ecological systems. The vast majority of human-built landscapes use lawns and other plants that have been sourced and cultivated in such a way that they have minimal benefits for any wildlife, e.g., the leaves are not those that caterpillars have evolved to eat, and without the caterpillars, birds are not provided with that essential protein source.”

 Comments are being taken until March 9 at this website.