The planning and development of sustainable communities can be accelerated through local
government leveraging of the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system. By leveraging the rating system, cities and counties can use it to advance six policy objectives that are critical for sustainable land development and redevelopment:
- Location-efficient growth
- Sensitive resource protection
- Compact urban design and multi-modal travel
- Social equity and public health
- Energy efficiency and climate protection
- Water efficiency and resource protection
Local governments are critical partners in achieving these objectives for several reasons. They have significant police or home-rule powers, including control of land-use, transportation systems, and building code implementation. In many cases they operate local energy utilities and transit systems. Local governments are also major consumers of energy, water, and materials; and significant emitters of greenhouse gases. They are, in effect, “first responders” to the challenges of sustainable development, and as a result they are in a unique position to amplify the benefits of LEED-ND.
Once a structural approach is selected, a LEED-ND ordinance (NDO) can become the instrument for organizing and executing the effort. An NDO can define the process of ND leveraging, identify the geography of ND-eligible areas, provide for local development standards aligned with ND criteria, and offer incentives for ND certification. Importantly, an NDO can be used over time to expand eligible areas and improve ND-scored conditions in those areas through strategic land-use, transportation, and capital improvement planning and investing.
Ultimately, an NDO can produce more ND-certified projects, at a faster rate, and with higher scores and certification levels than developers would otherwise accomplish individually. At the same time, a community will garner greater ‘triple bottom line’ benefits than would otherwise be the case without
its leveraging of ND.