This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 22, 2007

Sustainable Neighborhood Rating System Draws Strong Interest

Green building is gaining in popularity throughout the United States, but to date, most green building efforts have focused on a single building and are usually championed by either the building's owner or its primary tenant. Given that, can entire neighborhoods be swept up in the pursuit of green building and sustainable design and development? The initial experiences of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) suggests that the answer is yes, as 238 new developments have signed up to participate in the USGBC's new pilot rating system, the LEED for Neighborhood Development.

LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, and until now, the LEED Green Building Rating System has always been centered on individual buildings. In contrast, the LEED for Neighborhood Development is being touted as "the next generation of green building thinking." It integrates the principles of green building, smart growth, and "new urbanism," a concept that involves a range of housing types in a compact neighborhood, incorporating mixed uses with well-designed streets that allow easy access for pedestrians, bicycles, transit vehicles, and other vehicles. A key aspect is to create green communities that encourage people to walk to their destination rather than drive.

The 238 developments that are participating in the pilot are located in 39 U.S. states as well as 6 other countries. According to USGBC, the projects range from urban infill projects that are less than an acre in size to whole new communities that are more than 12,000 acres. Over the course of the next year, the pilot projects will seek certification and help to test the Neighborhood Development rating system. USGBC and its partners on the project—the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Congress for New Urbanism—will use the pilot program to learn more about how the draft LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system works. The groups intend to draw on that experience to revise and approve the final version of the rating system in time for a full public launch in 2008. See the USGBC press release, the LEED for Neighborhood Development Web page, and the list of pilot projects (PDF 22 KB). Download Adobe Reader.