LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND)

Q:  What is LEED for Neighborhood Development?

A:  LEED for Neighborhood Development, or LEED-ND, is a set of national standards developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) for neighborhood location and design based on the combined principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building.

Q:  How and why was LEED-ND created?

A:  LEED-ND was created because design professionals, new urbanists and environmental groups were finding that while there are many ways to make a single house or building sustainable, there was nothing that addressed the location and infrastructure of these buildings.  A building may be sustainable, but how efficient is it when a person must drive miles to reach it?

Through involvement with such groups as the USGBC and CNU, and thanks to Kaid Benfield of the NRDC, all it took to get LEED-ND going was a few phone calls back and forth between people who all realized it was time to quantify the New Urbanist/Smart Growth/Sustainable Urbanist ideals.

Q:  How is LEED-ND different from and similar to other LEED products?  Were enhancements made to this system?

A:  LEED-ND is similar to other LEED products or programs in that it assesses and rewards environmentally superior development practices.  It is different in that, rather than primarily focusing on green building practices, LEED-ND places its focus on the land-use pattern of a development.

Q:  What types of credits are part of LEED-ND?

A:  LEED-ND is essentially broken up into four sections: Smart Location and Linkage (SLL), Neighborhood Pattern Design (NPD), Green Construction & Technology (GCT), and Innovation & Design Process (IDP).  SLL gives credits based on the location of the development site.  For example, a project will earn points for its proximity to water and wastewater infrastructure, avoiding floodplains, or choosing a location that is close to schools and jobs to encourage a walkable and less auto-dependent neighborhood. NPD addresses issues such as the diversity and density of the development and whether there is affordable housing and/or access to public spaces.  GCT focuses on many items that are normally found in LEED-NC (New Construction) and LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) projects such as energy efficiency in buildings and reductions in water usage.  Lastly, IDP credits come from specifically-named innovations.

Q:  Can developments currently be rated under this LEED product?  If not, what is the timetable?

The pilot version, which includes well in excess of 200 projects, is closed.  Developments may be rated under the system upon its completion in 2009.  For those interested, a list of pilot projects can be found by name or state/province on the USGBC’s website at www.usgbc.org/leed/nd.

Doug Farr, an architect and urban designer, is the founding principal and president of Farr Associates, an architecture and planning firm regarded by many as one of the most sustainable design practices in the country.  It holds the distinction of being the only architecture firm in the world that has designed two LEED Platinum buildings.  Mr. Farr has served as co-chair of the Environmental Task Force of the Congress for the New Urbanism, chair of the AIA Chicago Committee on the Environment, and chair of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) Core Committee.

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