LEED for Neighborhood Development – “Neighborhoods Go Green” comes to DC

Even if you are uber passionate about “Green” initiatives and philosophies, you might be growing fatigued of the term “Green”, as well as some of it’s common counterparts. With “Green wash” marketing inundating us everyday fatigue is not the only thing setting in, but increasing skepticism as well.

On Monday I attended a panel discussion as part of the “Neighborhoods Go Green” Exhibit currently in house at the American Institute of Architects. Amidst today’s clutter of green claims verses green realities, I was exposed to a new (to me) initiative put forth by the U.S. Green Building Council that I think breathes new life into the entire green living conversation. That is their LEED for Neighborhood Development certification. And let me clarify, the philosophies are not new to me, but the formalization of the certification is, though USGBC began seeking pilot projects in 2007.

If you are like me, you know of the LEED certifications as construction based programs, mostly commercial, but there is also LEED for Homes. Where LEED for Neighborhood Development raises the bar is that it is not exclusively about construction, and the environmental concerns therein.

The LEED for Neighborhood Development point system is driven by:

  • smart growth
  • promoting the existing anchor points of a location (such as an existing fish market as part of The Warf project along the Anacostia, more on that later this week)
  • neighborhoods that reduce vehicle miles traveled
  • making jobs, shopping and restaurants accessible by foot and/or public transportation.
  • balanced economic make up
  • access to cultural activities
  • access to locally produced food
  • much, much more… All in addition to the typical LEED construction points system.

Personally, at least from a housing perspective, I look forward to the days when “Green” construction and design just IS. Someday calling construction “Green” will be redundant, though there will always be room for improvement I’m sure. That said, I found it refreshing to hear about the LEED for Neighborhood Development initiative on Monday night, which I believe will bring in a much needed holistic view to urban development.

The “Neighborhoods Go Green” Exhibit will be installed at the American Institute of Architects through April 21st.


Colin Storm is a Certified EcoBroker


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