Along with the trend to construct energy efficient high-rises and skyscrapers, there is a move to develop energy efficient neighborhood communities. In 2010 the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) joined forces with the Congress for the New Urbanism and the U.S. Green Building Council to launch LEED for Neighborhood Development, or LEED-ND to formally rate a community’s environmental footprint.
Designed to acknowledge “communities that were truly doing things right—embodying the principles of smart growth rather than suburban sprawl,” the group set up LEED-ND to define the most important component to creating a smart community. The NRDC stressed that they only wanted to consider projects that were in smart locations such as “vacant city lots, old industrial buildings, or suburban sites adjacent to existing construction.” In addition they wanted to reject sites that would require new water and sewage infrastructure unless it had already been planned.
In other words, the NRDC’s vision was that LEED-ND certification would be given to communities that model historic city neighborhoods. This means they need to have walkable streets and nearby services such as retail, entertainment venues, restaurants and public transportation.
The committee agreed that, “LEED-ND should emphasizes sustainability, and respects both the human ecosystem, as described by urban activist Jane Jacobs, and the surrounding ecosystem of wetlands, biodiversity, and animal habitats.” NRDC states there were 401 certified LEED-ND projects completed or under construction as of 2015 worldwide. A NRDC consultant who also served on the LEED-ND’s launch committee, Jessica Millman, explains that it is much easier for communities to now understand the benefits of a project as they have a list of environmental measures they can use to evaluate it.
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