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Years old, is still growing

LEED, 10

June 04, 2010|Gustavo Grad

Ten years after the launching of its flagship product to the public — the LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] system — the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has launched LEED for Neighborhood Development (ND). This is its seventh rating system and the first that brings the LEED approach to the neighborhood planning and development scale.

A strategy developed in collaboration with the Natural Resources Defense Council and Congress for the New Urbanism that integrates the principles of new urbanism, green buildings and smart growth into one system, it goes from the building level to a more holistic approach that now includes the context of those buildings at a larger scale.

The goal is to establish a national standard to asset and reward green neighborhood development practices within the framework of the LEED Green Building Rating System.

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The new rating system has four categories:

Smart Location and Linkage

Neighborhood Pattern and Design

Green Infrastructure and Buildings

Innovation and Design Process (to address innovation and issues not covered under the three categories)

Unlike all previous systems that focus primarily on building practices, LEED-ND emphasis is on the site selection and on the design and construction of the elements that bring it all together into a neighborhood, as well the regional context. Regional bonus credits also available acknowledge the importance of local conditions in determining best environmental design solutions.

It is important to note that LEED-ND is a three-stage process toward certification. At the end of the first stage, a project is awarded conditional approval of an LEED-ND plan. This is scheduled before completion of entitlements and with the goal of getting community support.

At stage two, the plan becomes a Pre-Certified LEED-ND plan, a status that can help projects to secure financing and attract tenants.

Finally, only at completion of stage three, a project can be referred to as a LEED-ND Certified Project. An application for this final stage can only be submitted for those projects that are completed — after the appropriate regulatory authorities have issued a certificate of occupancy for all buildings within the project and have accepted all infrastructure within the project.

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