USGBC Unveils LEED-Neighborhood Development

The US Green Building Council has launched a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Washington, D.C.–The US Green Building Council has launched a new Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) category that describes what sustainable, or green, development means on the scale of neighborhoods. The new standard, called LEED-ND, or LEED for Neighborhood Development, was created by the USGBC in conjunction with the National Resources Defense Council and the Congress for the New Urbanism.

Until now, LEED-ND had been a pilot program with 238 projects in the U.S. and other countries participating. As of the 1st of March, 68 projects were certified by the pilot. Unlike other LEED designations, LEED-ND focuses on areas that include more than one building, with the goals of reducing global warming emissions, land consumption, traffic and pollution, but also of enhancing livability.

“USGBC and its partners believe that the real estate development community is receptive and anticipating LEED for Neighborhood Development, especially those who are planning and developing projects near existing infrastructure, with compact development featuring walkable streets and high-performance green buildings,” Sophie Lambert, director of LEED for Neighborhood Development at USGBC, tells MHN. Under those terms, multifamily residential property is very like to be integral to many areas seeking certification.

The new program rates neighborhoods according to four categories: smart location and linkage; neighborhood pattern and design; green infrastructure and buildings; and innovation and design process. Like other LEED systems, the new designation identifies core prerequisites–such as avoiding critical wildlife habitat and having streets open to the general public–as well as dozens of additional characteristics that projects must meet to gain any of the four levels of LEED certification: certified, silver, gold, and platinum.

The certification is more than just an accolade; LEED-ND aims to encourage development teams, planners, and local governments to construct sustainable, compact neighborhoods. “LEED-ND is designed to recognize and support those projects as they navigate the approvals process and gain community support, market their projects to prospective financiers and tenants, and ultimately consumers,” says Lambert.

The designation isn’t just for projects still in the planning stage, according to the USGBC. LEED for Neighborhood ¬†Development enables projects to certify at both very early and very late stages of development, so that most interested projects should be able to participate.

Also, points are available within the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system for including LEED-certified buildings and for integrating green building practices within the buildings on the project site. These credits relate to energy efficiency, reduced water use, building reuse, recycled materials and heat island reduction.