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LEED certification offered for neighborhood development

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is now accepting applications for pilot projects to participate in the LEED for Neighborhood Development program. This new rating system integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national standard for neighborhood design.

"The future of green building is to think beyond just buildings, by addressing important issues like density development, community infrastructure, resource availability, and encouraging a healthy lifestyle," says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO, and founding chair, USGBC. "LEED for Neighborhood Development is an important and exciting step toward transforming the marketplace to create a healthy and sustainable future."

Interested developers can apply to join the pilot until April 6, 2007. Application information is available from the USGBC website at www.usgbc.org/leed/nd. The pilot test neighborhoods will be the first neighborhood development projects to earn the distinction of LEED certification while also helping to refine the new LEED rating system. The pilot phase of the program will conclude in early 2008. Based on feedback gathered during the pilot, the rating system will be revised as necessary prior to being balloted by USGBC’s membership.

The LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system is a collaboration between USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

"Smart growth is about innovation triumphing over our community development challenges," says Kaid Benfield, director of smart growth, NRDC. "This new program supports developers who are eager and willing to innovate, and levels the playing field for everyone."

"Just as other LEED systems have improved building efficiency and energy performance, LEED for neighborhoods will reward efficient use of land and the building of complete and walkable communities," says John Norquist, president and CEO of the CNU. "It is helping to reinforce a more complete understanding of sustainability that extends all the way from the individual building to the neighborhood and community."

The program emphasizes the design and construction elements that knit buildings together into a neighborhood, and provides guidelines for better location, design, and construction of new residential, commercial, and mixed-use development. Specifically, the pilot program for neighborhood development evaluates projects in the following four areas:

  • smart location and linkage;
  • neighborhood pattern and design;
  • green construction and technology; and
  • innovation and design process.

LEED encourages development within or near existing communities or public infrastructure to reduce the environmental impacts of sprawl. By promoting communities that are physically connected, the program fosters community, conserves land, and promotes transportation efficiency and walkability. LEED strives to create healthy, safe neighborhoods in which people from a wide range of economic levels and age groups can live and work together. For additional information about the pilot and to learn about how to participate, visit www.usgbc.org/leed/nd.