LEED for Neighborhood Development (“LEED-ND “) is a collaboration among the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). The collaboration seeks to develop an environmental strategy that brings sustainability to the scale of neighborhoods and communities. This new venture known as LEED for Neighborhood Development or LEED-ND is a system for rating and certifying green neighborhoods. The project builds on other LEED systems by expanding its scope beyond individual buildings to a more holistic examination of the context of those buildings. Through a multi-year research and review process, the LEED-ND partners have identified draft criteria that will guide developments to achieve significant improvements in sustainability. The pilot version of LEED-ND began in February 2007.
During the pilot phase, the LEED-ND rating system is tested against real world projects in order to improve the system and its applicability in the marketplace. The program was tested in 238 pilot projects in 39 states and 6 countries. LEED-ND gives architects a binary checklist of sustainable systems and practices to attain for points. The more points each project earns, the higher the rating, from Standard/Certified, Silver and Gold to Platinum. The current version of LEED-ND is LEED 2009 of Neighborhood Development. There is no minimum or maximum project size for LEED-ND though USGBC posits that the system will work best on projects with a minimum of 2 buildings up to 320 acres. Also note that the project must have at least one LEED certified building in the project. Accordingly, it is important for the project team to evaluate overall LEED certification plans to control associated costs.
The LEED-ND point checklist is primarily divided into three main categories. The first large category (27 points) is called Smart Location and Linkage and deals with fundamental site planning and context issues. It includes points and prerequisites for protecting sensitive sites like farmland and locations of endangered species. The second category, and category with the largest point total (44 points), is called Neighborhood Pattern and Design. It deals with general infrastructural development and design, like designing densely populated residences with walkable streetscapes. It also looks at the social engineering role of sustainable development by encouraging the productive collaboration of groups with different incomes and development roles. Mixed uses are rewarded, as well as local food production and reduced parking lot footprints. The final category is Green Infrastructure and Buildings (29 points). This is where individual sustainability practices and systems make their appearance: using recycled content, reduced water use, heat island reduction, infrastructure energy efficiency, and, of course, developments get points for having LEED certified buildings on-site. As with all LEED standards, points are also available for innovation (6 points) and design and regional priority credits (a project may earn up to 4 credits based on a project’s location).
LEED-ND has three stages for certification based on development stage: (1) Conditionally Approved Plan – for use during entitlements, (2) Pre-Certified Plan – for use after entitlements have been obtained and while under construction and (3) Certified Neighborhood Development – for use after construction is completed.
- USGBC’s LEED ND page: http://www.usgbc.org/LEED/ND
- LEED Online (registration & certification): http://www.leedonline.com.
- GBCI (registration & certification process info): http://www.gbci.org.
General Sustainable Development Information for Lawyers
For a general background in sustainable development for lawyers, you may find my article “What You Should Know About Sustainable Development Projects” The Practical Real Estate Lawyer (March 2009) helpful. It is available on-line at: http://www.carltonfields.com/What-You-Should-Know-About-Sustainable-Development-Projects-04-07-2009/ . In addition, the American Bar Association Section of Real Property, Trust and Estate Law’s Green Building and Sustainable Development: The Practical Legal Guide (2009) provides an outline of many of the legal issues related to green building and sustainable development (disclaimer: I am one of the editors/authors).
 LEED for Neighborhood Development Sustains the Places in Between Spaces. AIA Architect. October 24, 2008. Available at http://info.aia.org/aiarchitect/thisweek08/1024/1024p_leednd.cfm
Submitted by Nicole C. Kibert, Carlton Fields, P.A.
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