U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: Neighborhood Development Update

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LEED for Neighborhood Development Honored!

Hope in Sunnydale: Making a Difference in San Francisco

Greenbuild 2011 – Recap

LEED for Neighborhood Development Honored!

On November 10, the Renewable Natural Resources Foundation (RNRF) awarded the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system with its Outstanding Achievement Award for 2011. Every year, the award recognizes a project, publication, piece of legislation, or similar concrete accomplishment in the natural resources field. USGBC shares the award with the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), co-creators of the rating system.

Previous winners of the RNRF Outstanding Achievement Award include: Michigan's Water Withdrawal Assessment Process of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment (2010), Dig It! The Secrets of Soil, an exhibition in the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History (2009), Integrated Ecosystem Restoration and Hurricane Protection: Louisiana's Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (2008), and National Coastal Assessment of the U.S. EPA-Gulf Ecology Division (2007).

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Hope in Sunnydale: Making a Difference in San Francisco

By Steven Lau
In the southeastern quadrant of San Francisco, at the foot of the city's second largest park, lies the poor and oft-forgotten neighborhood of Sunnydale. Built in the 1940s to accommodate wartime ship builders, Sunnydale is now the site of the city's largest public housing complex with 1,700 residents living in dilapidated buildings isolated from the surrounding community.

While San Francisco has one of the best-educated workforces and highest median household incomes in the nation, Sunnydale stands out as an anomaly, with less than a third of its residents having graduated high school and a median household income level that is less than one-fourth that of the city.

But plans are in place to transform this distressed community into a vibrant, mixed-use sustainable neighborhood. Part of the HOPE SF initiative, Sunnydale is a joint effort by developers Mercy Housing California and The Related Companies of California, the City and County of San Francisco, the San Francisco Housing Authority, and other partners.

Not only will a diversity of housing types be offered and affordable to people of mixed incomes, but the plan also calls for the creation of a neighborhood "hub" with a multi-purpose community center, neighborhood-serving retail, and public open spaces like a community garden that seek to fulfill both the recreational and nutritional needs of residents. The project recently achieved Stage 1 Gold for its Conceptual Plan through LEED for Neighborhood Development, the first submission in the U.S. under the LEED 2009 for Neighborhood Development requirements to do so.

Rendering by Jeffrey Michael George Illustration

The vision for a new Sunnydale was the result of a broad community planning process of seventeen meetings held over the course of eighteen months and conducted in four languages with over 500 dedicated residents and neighbors. "The priorities came directly from the community members: accessible neighborhood parks and amenities, affordable and market-rate housing, and green streets. We are very proud that the quality of this plan is recognized by USGBC," said Ramie Dare, project manager for Mercy Housing California and Related California. Residents wanted to make Sunnydale a place they could call home and that others would want to visit.

The plan as envisioned calls for the following:

  • Approximately 1,000 affordable rental units and 700 affordable/market-rate homeownership units
  • New neighborhood hub centered around "Life Center" facility, with arts-related, educational and fitness programs
  • Over 6 acres of greenspace including new parks, community garden and outdoor pavilion for farmer's market
  • 15,000 square feet of neighborhood-serving retail such as corner grocery and financial services
  • 15,000 square feet dedicated to community services for youth, adults and seniors

In addition, the 50-acre site will incorporate numerous green features, from edible landscaping to rainwater retention bioswales. New pedestrian-oriented streets with bicycle and walk paths will reconnect the community with the existing neighborhood grid.

Courtesy Mercy Housing California and The Related Companies of California

Sunnydale HOPE SF was a recipient of USGBC's 2010 Affordable Green Neighborhood Grant Program funded by the Bank of America Foundation, which provides grants and educational resources to affordable housing developers and public agencies that choose to pursue LEED for Neighborhood Development certification.

Steven Lau is an intern in the LEED department at USGBC and is conducting research focused on the business impact of LEED for Neighborhood Development.

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Greenbuild 2011 – Recap

What's Next? LEED for Neighborhood Development, of course! Below are highlights from some of the LEED for Neighborhood Development events that took place at this year's Greenbuild Conference in Toronto!

 1. Neighborhoods Go Green Exhibit at the Royal Bank Plaza
The U. S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC) jointly hosted the Neighborhoods Go Green! Scaling up Sustainability exhibit on display from October 4-15. Co-curated by the U.S. Green Building Council and Farr Associates with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the exhibit discusses scaling up sustainability to a neighborhood framework and highlights LEED for Neighborhood Development as a tool to achieve more sustainable communities. If you are interested in bringing the exhibit to your community, please contact neighborhoods@usgbc.org.
  2. The Building Blocks of Green Neighborhoods
Held for the second year in a row at Greenbuild, this interactive educational session helps Greenbuild attendees conceptualize the potential layout of LEED for Neighborhood Development projects.

We are already gearing up for Greenbuild 2012 in San Francisco, our country's hub for technology and innovation. Mark you calendar for Nov. 13-16, 2012, and don't forget to follow the new @Greenbuild Twitter account for news and updates.

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