USGBC Launches First LEED Standard for Neighborhood Development

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) on Thursday launched its first LEED standard for neighborhood development. LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green
building to reduce urban sprawl and increase transportation choices.

The scope of certified projects can range
from small developments to whole communities. Because of the scale of
neighborhood development, projects will be measured by acreage–the first
LEED rating system to use a measurement other than square footage.

certifying under LEED for Neighborhood Development must achieve points
in three major environmental categories: Smart Location & Linkage,
Neighborhood Pattern & Design, and Green Infrastructure &
Buildings across a 110-point scale.

The standard encourages development within or near existing communities and/or public
infrastructure in order to reduce the environmental impacts of sprawl.
By promoting communities that are physically connected, the standard conserves land and promotes transportation
efficiency and walkability.

A 2008 study entitled “The Economic Value of
Walkability” found that households in automobile-dependent communities
devote 50% more money–more than $8,500 annually–to transportation.

The correlation between transit-oriented development and proximity to services, amenities and jobs to human health benefits and economic capital has been found by numerous studies and is advocated by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services. Furthermore, the connectivity to neighboring communities with existing transportation and thoroughfares or local retail and services, greatly benefits the citizens, businesses and local economy of the surrounding regions.

LEED for Neighborhood Development projects include or are sited to have good access to schools, businesses, residences, shopping, dining and entertainment.

"Half of the buildings we will have in 25 years are not yet on the ground,” said Kaid Benfield, Director of the Smart Growth Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. “Where we put them is even more important to the environment than how we build them

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) launched the new standard in association with the Natural Resources
Defense Council (NRDC) and Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU).

CNU brought a number of planners and architects from the New Urbanist movement to help shape the new rating system. New Urbanism promotes compact neighborhood form, a wide range of urban housing types from multi-unit buildings to single-family homes, a mix of uses within close proximity of each other, humane public spaces and well-connected streets and blocks serving users ranging from pedestrians and cyclists to transit riders and drivers.

Also launching this spring is the LEED Accredited Professional (AP) Neighborhood Development (ND) credential for professionals participating in the design and development of neighborhoods.

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