If you’re into urban planning and sustainability, you’ve probably heard of the green building certification system called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). Have you ever wondered though if building a green building in a car-dependent greenfield still counts as being green? Well it does. But should it? According to the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU):
More than one-third of greenhouse gas emissions are produced by buildings (primarily in heating and cooling), but another third is spent transporting people and goods to and from those buildings — and transportation emissions are growing much faster. Workplaces, shops and residences -– even energy-efficient ones — in remote, auto-dependent locations generate vastly more transportation-related emissions than locations in urban places where transit-use, walking, bicycling are viable options.
That’s where LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development) comes in to play. LEED-ND rates buildings in relation to the surrounding neighborhood and region. To be certified, a development project must meet nine prerequisites and score at least 40 points out of 106 available. Certification at silver, gold, and platinum levels requires more points.
Many of the categories relate to transportation. There is a prerequisite for “smart location” that can be satisfied by being within a transit service area. There are credits for reduced automobile dependence, bicycle network, reduced parking footprint, walkable streets, transit facilities, and transportation demand management.
Nine projects in Ohio are participating in the pilot project to test the system, including Jeffery Place North Block 1 in Columbus. None of those nine projects have finished certification yet.
I encourage you to check out more details of LEED-ND, especially if you’re a developer, planner, or engineer. The system is now open for public comment. I have high hopes for LEED-ND. If it becomes as popular as the LEED green building rating system, it could play a big role in reducing the construction of new auto-dependent sprawl.