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U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: Neighborhood Development Update
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The Front Porch
LEED for Neighborhood Development: Looking to the Future
Sophie Lambert – Director, Neighborhood Development

2009 was a very busy year for the Neighborhood Development team at USGBC and our partner organizations, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council. After receiving tremendous feedback on early drafts of the new LEED 2009 for Neighborhood Development rating system through two public comment periods, volunteer experts on the LEED for Neighborhood Development Core Committee, staff and consultants worked hard to revise the rating system. In addition to the hard work of staff from all three partner organizations, I would especially like to thank the core committee headed by Jessica Millman, chair, and the two vice-chairs, Susan Mudd and Bert Gregory, FAIA, and our main consultant, Eliot Allen, AICP of Criterion Planners. By fall, the rating system was successfully approved/balloted by all three partner organizations, which is a notable achievement. To see the final LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system and its accompanying introductory material on the rating system vision and certification process, please visit www.usgbc.org/leed/nd.

The LEED Reference Guide for Green Neighborhood Development is also available now for interested project teams and local governments. This resource includes detailed information about each prerequisite and credit, such as implementation strategies, calculations and resources.

Now we are working diligently to open registration early this year. Stay tuned – we hope to have a registration date to share in the next month or so. Certification will open later in 2010.

We hope you enjoy the inaugural edition of Neighborhood Development Update. Please send us feedback and suggestions for case studies or articles to include in future newsletters to nd@committees.usgbc.org.

Happy new year and keep up all your hard work creating thriving green neighborhoods!

Kind regards,
Sophie Lambert, AICP

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LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot

Commencing in July 2007, with nearly 240 projects participating, the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot has yielded important feedback about the rating system. To-date, approximately one quarter of the original projects have completed at least one stage of the certification process, with many more currently undergoing review. The pilot program is now closed. For more details, and to download the pilot project lists, please visit the LEED for Neighborhood Development Web page.

Profile in Brief: Jackson Square Redevelopment (Roxbury & Jamaica Plain, Mass.)
After an extensive planning process resulting in over 10 years of input from multiple stakeholders, 11 acres of brownfields adjacent to the Jackson Square MBTA station are on their way to becoming an environmentally and socially sustainable community. Located in one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, this LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot project is a public-private partnership between the City of Boston, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the local developer, Jackson Square Partners, LLC.

The plan for the site – which was originally slated to become a highway interchange – will incorporate over 400 residential dwelling units, 30,000 square feet of office space and 60,000 square feet of recreation space. A large component of the project has been designated as affordable with 69% of the for-rent units planned to be priced below 80% of the area median income (AMI). More recently, Jackson Square Partners received grant funding from an anonymous foundation to develop green design strategies for inclusion into the project. The result was a 50-page “Green Guidelines” document that served as a roadmap for the project team and led to the inclusion of on-site renewable energy generation and green roofs that will cover 70% of the roof area of each building.

Project Profile »
More information »

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LEED for Neighborhood Development: Regionalization Update

For the past six months, hundreds of volunteers throughout the country have volunteered to assist USGBC with the selection of Regional Priority credits for the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system. Volunteers hail from USGBC Chapters, Congress for the New Urbanism Chapters, and Smart Growth America’s State and Local Caucus. These volunteer groups are now finishing their work selecting Regional Priority credits.

Regional Priority credits give project teams an opportunity to earn bonus points for accomplishing LEED for Neighborhood Development credits of particular importance in the project’s location. The six priority credits for a given region are existing credits in LEED for Neighborhood Development’s credit categories selected for their regional importance, and project teams will be able to earn one bonus point each for achieving up to four of them. Our volunteers have generously lent their industry expertise and local knowledge to determine which credits are most important in their states and regions. Now that the volunteer work is almost complete, USGBC is preparing the final list of credits for public consumption by the time LEED-ND 2009 certification commences. When the list is complete, it will be available at www.usgbc.org/LEED2009.

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Oakland Transit Village Approval Process Made Easier by LEED for Neighborhood Development
By Tim Frank

In July 2009, the City of Oakland approved a development agreement vesting the right to develop the MacArthur BART Transit Village for a period of 15 years. The transit village is a large, multi-developer, master-planned project that will eventually cover five parcels and will be constructed in several phases. Most of the land is currently surface parking for a Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station. The project is slated to include 624 new residential units, including 516 market-rate units and 108 below-market-rate units, 42,500 square feet of commercial/neighborhood serving retail space, and 5,000 square feet of community space (most likely a childcare center).

A key element of the agreement was a commitment by the developers to achieve a LEED Gold certification under the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot, a designation they have now earned for a Pre-Review Approval (Stage 1) of their plan.

“The City of Oakland cares a lot about green, so there was little question about whether this project would be green. The question was how,” said Lydia Tan, interim CEO of BRIDGE Housing, one of the partners in the project.

Very early in the process, the developers suggested using LEED for Neighborhood Development as a framework for discussing sustainable design, and the city readily agreed. The rating system provided a process that both the project architects and the city staff could easily follow, which inspired confidence among the city staff and political leaders and was easy to explain in public outreach. According to Tan, the focus on LEED for Neighborhood Development streamlined the discussion.

“The detailed negotiation about what we would and wouldn’t do just went away,” Tan said. “The conversation at the political level was, ‘Is this a LEED designation? That’s good.’”

The LEED for Neighborhood Development application emphasized elements that benefited the whole site (e.g. stormwater, building orientation, density, transportation), while leaving for later consideration some of the building systems (e.g. graywater use) that were financially difficult to model prior to later architectural work.

In the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program, the project scored extremely well in the Smart Location & Linkage category as the brownfield, infill site is close to transit and bike corridors and other diverse uses. It also scored well for site design and practices that enhanced those virtues. For example, the project will incorporate many transportation-related measures, such as great pedestrian access, transit passes for residents, unbundled parking for cars, more bike parking spaces and an additional eight spaces for car-sharing.

The Transit Village scored well in the Gold range, but could potentially achieve more points in future stages of certification under the pilot program.

“We had meetings with our engineers to brainstorm strategies for managing water on site, such as filtering and reusing rainwater, and we became comfortable committing to this early. We are at two points but could easily push that up to three or four points,” said Iman Novin, the project analyst from BRIDGE who oversaw the project’s movement through the LEED process, said.

Other areas where the project team may be able to pick up additional points include light pollution, on-site energy generation, and graywater reuse.

“That is the beauty of this three-tiered rating system. We check boxes of things we know we can commit to now, but also we’re more aware of things we will look at doing. At a later stage we may be able to achieve Platinum,” said Novin.

In addition to serving as a member of the LEED for Neighborhood Development Core Committee and the Location & Planning Technical Advisory Group (LP TAG), Tim Frank is a senior policy advisor to the Sierra Club and principal consultant of the Sustainable Design Support Center.

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