LEED for Neighbourhoods (ND): Open For Comments

The new LEED Neighbourhood (ND) rating system that has been in pilot since 2007 was posted for comment yesterday. There have been many critics of the LEED rating system, but the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) ability to respond constructively has helped it to continued to play a transformative role in the construction and realestate markets.

Early versions of LEED applied only to individual buildings. Ignoring issues like land-use, density, and transportation produced uncomfortable contradictions. You could build a new building on a flood plain at the outskirts of town, miles from the nearest public transit line, and still get LEED gold if you did the numbers right. Even more familiar are the LEED certified landmark buildings that totally ignore their surroundings. The focus on individual buildings also ignored the fact that it's not buildings, but systems of buildings that offer some of the best opportunities for innovative high-efficiency design.

District heating and cooling, distributed generation grids, walkable mixed-use communities... all those things take place at a neighbourhood level. If we are going to build sustainable cities in any real way, not just put up a few flashy exceptions to business-as-usual, we've got to work at the neighbourhood scale.

The new LEED (ND) system looks promising because it begins to take these and other variables into account. As the most widely recognized brand for ranking sustainable buildings -- and now settlements more generally -- LEED is hugely important. It really defines what "sustainability" is for many buyers and builders. If their rankings don't correspond to the seriousness of the problem, then a lot of us will be left tilting at windmills. So get your comments in! The USGBC will be accepting submissions until January 5th. All the details are here.

(images from: starrynightlights.com)


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

You can expect occasional updates, but not with the same frequency as in the past.

You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

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