The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Suzanne Struglinski, 202-289-2387,;
Josh Mogerman, 312-651-7909,

LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System Launches as Benchmark for Green Neighborhood Design

Environmental Leaders Partner to Advance Walkable, Sustainable and Economically Thriving Communities


The Natural Resources Defense Council
(NRDC), The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and Congress for the
New Urbanism (CNU) announced today the launch of the LEED for
Neighborhood Development green neighborhoods rating system. LEED for
Neighborhood Development 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, encouraging healthy living, and protecting threatened

The rating system encourages development within or near
existing communities and/or public infrastructure in order to reduce the
environmental impacts of sprawl. By promoting communities that are
physically connected, LEED for Neighborhood Development conserves land
and promotes transportation efficiency and walkability. A 2008 study
entitled "The Economic Value of Walkability" found that households in
automobile-dependent communities devote 50 percent more money - more
than $8,500 annually - to transportation.

The correlation between transit-oriented development and
proximity to services, amenities and jobs to human health benefits and
economic capital has been found by numerous studies and is advocated by
the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and
Human Services. Furthermore, the connectivity to neighboring communities
with existing transportation and thoroughfares or local retail and
services greatly benefits the citizens, businesses and local economy of
the surrounding regions.

"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. "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."

LEED for Neighborhood Development strives to create healthy,
safe neighborhoods in which people from a wide range of economic levels
and age groups can live and work together. Green neighborhoods foster
social inclusivity as they provide accessibility to transportation,
jobs, resources, education and promote healthier lifestyles. LEED for
Neighborhood Development projects include or are sited to have good
access to schools, businesses, residences, shopping, dining and

"Sustainable communities are prosperous communities for the
occupants and businesses which inhabit them," said Rick Fedrizzi,
President, CEO & Founding Chair, U.S. Green Building Council. "LEED
for Neighborhood Development projects are strategically located in or
surrounding metropolitan areas - often times revitalizing brownfields,
infills or other underutilized spaces, opening new revenue streams,
creating jobs opportunities and helping to drive the local, state and
national economies."

NRDC helped to establish LEED for Neighborhood Development by
soliciting the help of Smart Growth America, a national coalition of
organizations working for better communities and recruiting smart growth
experts to participate on the committee of volunteers that authored the
rating system. The principles of smart growth focus on the importance
of considering location, transportation alternatives, equity, and
community form when developing land use plans.

"LEED for Neighborhood Development contains the components
for compact and complete neighborhoods. With walkable streets,
appropriately-scaled schools, and a mix of amenities close by, residents
can lower their environmental impact while improving their quality of
life," said John Norquist, President and CEO, Congress for the New

CNU brought a number of leading planners and architects from
the New Urbanist movement to help shape the new rating system. New
Urbanism promotes compact neighborhood form, a wide range of urban
housing types from multi-unit buildings to single-family homes, a
vibrant mix of uses within close proximity of each other, humane public
spaces and well-connected streets and blocks serving users ranging from
pedestrians and cyclists to transit riders and drivers.

"LEED for Neighborhood Development projects are designed to
highlight the best in a community," Fedrizzi continued. "By bridging
together adjoining districts, neighborhood developments take advantage
of the greatest things a community has to offer - the people and
amenities which enrich our lives on a daily basis."

The consensus-based process that drives the development of
the LEED rating systems ensures and encourages the very best in
building, design and development practices. The scope of LEED for
Neighborhood Development projects can range from small projects to whole
communities and encompasses a broader set of stakeholders in the
process. Because of the scale of neighborhood development, projects are
measured on acreage - the first LEED rating system to use a measurement
other than square footage.

This is the seventh LEED rating system released by USGBC and
is the first comprehensive benchmark for green neighborhood design.
Projects certifying under LEED for Neighborhood Development must achieve
points in three major environmental categories: Smart Location &
Linkage, Neighborhood Pattern & Design, and Green Infrastructure
& Buildings across a 110-point scale.

Also launching this spring is the LEED Accredited
Professional (AP) Neighborhood Development (ND) credential for
professionals participating in the design and development of
neighborhoods. To read more about the LEED AP ND credential, go to
or to learn about the neighborhood development educational offerings,

Read more about LEED-ND on Kaid
Benfield's blog

NRDC works to safeguard the earth--its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends. We combine the power of more than three million members and online activists with the expertise of some 700 scientists, lawyers, and policy advocates across the globe to ensure the rights of all people to the air, the water, and the wild.

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