Friday, May 1, 2009

LEED for Neighborhood Development - Public Comments Wanted

The LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building into the first national system for neighborhood design. LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a development's location and design meet accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development. LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The pilot program, which began in the summer of 2007 and tested nearly 240 projects, is wrapping up. The pilot experience and further discussion about the rating system led to the creation of a 1st Public Comment Period Draft.

The period to comment on this draft ran from November 17, 2008 through January 5, 2009. Over 5,000 comments were received.

A second public comment period opened on May 1, 2009 and will close on June 14th at 11:59 Pacific Time. Submit comments today. The post-pilot version of the rating system, which will be available to the public, is expected to launch in late summer.

Benefits of Developing a LEED for Neighborhood Development Community

Encourage healthy living LEED for Neighborhood Development emphasizes the creation of compact, walkable, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods with good connections to nearby communities. Research has shown that living in a mixed-use environment within walking distance of shops and services results in increased walking and biking, which improve human cardiovascular and respiratory health and reduce the risk of hypertension and obesity.

Reduce urban sprawl

In order to reduce the impacts of urban sprawl, or unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas outside of the metropolitan region, and create more livable communities, LEED for Neighborhood Development communities are: locations that are closer to existing town and city centers. areas with good transit access. infill sites. previously developed sites. sites adjacent to existing development.

Typical sprawl development, low-density housing and commercial uses located in automobile-dependent areas, can harm the natural environment in a number of ways. It can consume and fragment farmland, forests and wildlife habitat; degrade water quality through destruction of wetlands and increased stormwater runoff; and pollute the air with increased automobile travel.

Protect threatened species

Fragmentation and loss of habitat are major threats to many imperiled species. LEED encourages compact development patterns and the selection of sites that are within or adjacent to existing development to minimize habitat fragmentation and also help preserve areas for recreation.

Increase transportation choice and decrease automobile dependence.

These two things go hand-in-hand; convenient transportation choices such as buses, trains, car pools, bicycle lanes and sidewalks, for example, are typically more available near downtowns, neighborhood centers and town centers, which are also the locations that produce shorter automobile trips.

Benefits to Project Developers of LEED for Neighborhood Development Communities

Potentially reduced fees or waiting periods Increasingly, municipalities are reducing fees or review periods associated with the approval process for community projects that can demonstrate a commitment to sustainability. Successfully completing the first stage of LEED for Neighborhood Development certification (pre-review approval) may assist projects that are still in the planning stages to gain the necessary approvals as expediently and cost-effectively as possible.

A good impression on your neighbors

A LEED for Neighborhood Development certification can help projects explain the environmental and community benefits of a project to residents and businesses in nearby areas. The rating system also encourages projects to work collaboratively with the existing neighborhood to make sure their needs are taken into account.

Higher tenancy rates

Rising demand for housing and commercial space in highly walkable or transit-accessible areas can result in higher tenancy rates.

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