U.S. GREEN BUILDING COUNCIL: Neighborhood Development Update

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Local Government Resources

USGBC Government Summit

Neighborhood Go Green! – Scaling Up Sustainability

Wyandanch Rising: Community Revitalization


Attending the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Planning Conference or live in the Boston area? USGBC and our local Massachusetts chapter will be exhibiting at the APA conference this year (Booth 816 – Hynes Convention Center) and will be in Boston from April 9-12. Stop by to get your questions answered or just say hello!

Also, come see Sophie Lambert, USGBC’s director of neighborhood development, who will be speaking on the following panel: S464: LEED Guidance for Neighborhood Development (Apr. 10, 2:30-3:45 p.m.).

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Local Government Resources

Check out our new or recently updated resources for local governments!

Local Government Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development
This guide focuses on the ways the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system can be best used by local governments to achieve sustainability goals and will be a helpful resource if you are working on a climate action plan or comprehensive plan update, revising a zoning code or green building ordinance, or looking to incentivize LEED for Neighborhood Development. Four key approaches are highlighted in this guide using case studies: Lead by Example, Remove Barriers and Pave the Way, The Case for Incentives, and Technical Assistance and Education. A supporting slide presentation is also available for download.

Local Government Resources Web Page
This new webpage includes resources and tools for local government officials and staff to facilitate development of green, sustainable neighborhoods in their jurisdictions. Examples of resources available for download include the following:

  • Policy tools
  • Design guidelines
  • Model codes
  • Education resources
  • Presentation slides

Check out the page at usgbc.org/ndlocalgove.

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USGBC Government Summit

Green building professionals from the public and private sectors will come together on May 10-11 for the 2011 Government Summit in Washington, D.C., to discuss the potential for implementing sustainability in government buildings and programs at the federal, state and local levels. This year, in addition to sessions of a variety of green building topics, there will be several sessions on sustainable communities and LEED for Neighborhood Development.

See the full Government Summit program »
Register today at early-bird prices »

USGBC will also host an ND251: Understanding the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System workshop on May 9 in conjunction with the summit. For more information and to register, visit usgbc.org/nd251.

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Neighborhood Go Green! – Scaling Up Sustainability

USGBC is proud to announce the opening of the Neighborhoods Go Green exhibit at the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the American Institute of Architects.

Curated by the U.S. Green Building Council and Farr Associates with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, the Neighborhoods Go Green exhibit uses LEED for Neighborhood Development as a framework to explore the key elements of a sustainable community. The exhibit is on display until April 21, so check it out if you are in the Washington area.

For more information on the exhibit, please visit www.usgbc.org/ngg. If you are interested in bringing the exhibit to your community, please contact neighborhoods@usgbc.org.

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Wyandanch Rising: Community Revitalization

Q&A with Supervisor Steve Bellone and Town Design Director Ekta Naik-Gupta

The Town of Babylon has undertaken an extensive effort to transform the hamlet of Wyandanch into a model transit-oriented development. Launched in 2002, the 100-acre Wyandanch Rising project represents a comprehensive community-based planning process for revitalization of town-acquired land in the core of a historically impoverished and disinvested area. As part of this project, the town is leveraging funds from federal, state, county and non-profit agencies to make infrastructure improvements, such as a new sewer system, that will remedy the barriers that have limited density around the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station at the heart of the project. The town is also developing a mixed-use zoning code and urban renewal plan based on guidelines in LEED for Neighborhood Development.

The project is a recipient of the Affordable Green Neighborhoods Grant program, supported by the Bank of America Foundation, and is currently registered for Stage 2 under the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.

1. The town has taken an active role in the redevelopment process. What strategies have you used to jumpstart the plans and how have other stakeholders – state, national, non-profit – been involved?

Following the launch of the visioning and planning process in 2002, a broad-based group of stakeholders from all branches of federal, state and local government and non-profit groups were assembled to turn the goals of the project into reality and have provided vital technical assistance and grant funding to the project.

For example, the design for Wyandanch Rising leverages Wyandanch’s main asset, a Long Island Railroad (LIRR) train station within a 50-minute ride to midtown Manhattan. In order to build upon this existing asset, a grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to plan and design an intermodal public plaza was secured. The plaza, serving dual purpose as a regional node and the Wyandanch downtown, is guided by the principles of smart growth and LEED for Neighborhood Development and is characterized by pedestrian amenities, mixed uses, networked thoroughfares and opportunities for civic buildings and spaces resulting in a sustainable and joyful public realm.

Other grants and assistance have included, but are not limited to, funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Sewer Feasibility Study, Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) designation by New York State, streetscape improvements from the New York State Department of Transportation (DOT), and downtown revitalization grants from Suffolk County.

2. What motivated you to apply for the LEED for Neighborhood Development program?

The physical brick-and-mortar components of this project are just one aspect of what is truly a comprehensive plan for community-based revitalization. In addition to physical upgrades the town is undertaking, there is an effort to increase home-ownership, retrofit and rehabilitate existing single-family homes with energy-efficient upgrades, and train Wyandanch residents in green job skills to ensure that Wyandanch residents, to the fullest extent possible, are invested in and benefit from the revitalization. The Town opened the Wyandanch Community Resource Center in November 2009 right in the heart of downtown on the site of a shattered McDonald’s. The Center offers GED-equivalency programs, job training and placement services, credit and housing counseling and small business development counseling.

This project will transform Wyandanch where industrial and other noxious uses abutted residential areas and where environmental injustice has been the norm for decades into the greenest, most sustainable community on Long Island. The goal of the Resource Center is that the new LEED-certified buildings in the downtown area will be built by the hands of skilled Wyandanch residents and that some of the new businesses will be run by local entrepreneurs.

The town believes that the Wyandanch Rising project currently pursuing Stage 2 certification for LEED for Neighborhood Development is a perfect example of a community based revitalization process, setting regional and national precedent to provide affordable, sustainable transit oriented neighborhood development.

3. How have you used the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system in the planning and design process?

Good planning practices that incorporate smart growth strategies, green building techniques, and efficient neighborhood design were adopted at the onset of the project. There has been an ongoing conversation about sustainability goals supported by a variety of stakeholders, and LEED for Neighborhood Development was an outgrowth of this process that called for reduced environmental impacts and greater economic opportunities through sustainable development.

Specific strategies include the development of a Low Impact Development (LID) toolkit which outlines best practices in sustainable design that are feasible in Wyandanch, incorporating relevant areas of LEED for Neighborhood Development into the Wyandanch form-based code and calling out the rating system in the developer Request for Qualifications (RFQ) package.

4. What have been some of the challenges?

At the onset of the project we faced a number of physical and structural constraints to creating a sustainable mixed-use development. For example, a lack of sewers in the area has limited density, deficiencies in the existing code did not support downtown transit oriented development, and an existing arterial road with a high accident rate, Straight Path, would need to be transformed into a pedestrian friendly main street to support the proposed development. In addition, larger issues such as the significant number of brownfield sites in the community (over 200 according to the EPA Brownfield’s Assessment Study) and the rating as the most economically distressed community on Long Island has or presented additional challenges to revitalizing the community.

5. What would you suggest to another community looking to create a sustainable development?

It is vital to work with the community from the very beginning to establish clear goals and vision. No revitalization, sustainable or otherwise, can be successful without the support of the community. A plan for revitalization should also address all three aspects of sustainability: the environmental, the social and the economical.

6. What’s next for the project?

The draft Wyandanch Form Based Code, which was written from scratch based upon the Smart Code, is currently under review by various agencies and is scheduled to be adopted by the Town in the near future.

The outcome of the Request for Qualification (RFQ), which was released on Feb. 18, will determine a group of developers who will be invited to respond to the formal Request for Proposals (RFP). The successful developer will work closely with the town and all affected agencies and stakeholders to transform the developer’s concepts into acceptable and feasible development plans.

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