New LEED Certification Announced for Neighborhoods

Leading green minds have long been saying that If we’re going to get sustainable on a larger scale, we’re going to have to “think outside the box”–the building, that is. Recently, the three founding partners of the influential LEED green building standards–the National Reources Defence Council (NRDC), the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the US Green Building Councilannounced the next phase in certified-green design: LEED for Neighborhood Development, or LEED-ND.

The national launch of the program is being celebrated at simultaneous events in metropolitan Washington, DC and Chicago, where the three founding partners will be joined by representatives from the US Environmental Protection Agency (LEED-ND’s first financial supporter) and Smart Growth America, NRDC’s coalition partner and longtime collaborator. The new standard integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building, and benefits communities by reducing urban sprawl, increasing transportation choices and decreasing automobile dependence while protecting threatened species.

LEED-ND

images via NRDC

The development of this standard comes not a minute too soon, as a growing body of research supports the idea that how we live (including our proximity to services, amenities and jobs, as well as our transportation choices) has a huge impact on both the environment and our health. “Half of the buildings we will have in 25 years are not yet on the ground,” said Kaid Benfield, Director of the Smart Growth Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement. “Where we put them is even more important to the environment than how we build them, and NRDC is proud to stand alongside our partners with a system that helps guide them to the right places while avoiding the wrong ones.”

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Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.