LEED for Neighborhood Development: The New Kid on the Block

LEED for Neighborhood Development: The New Kid on the Block

Jill Bellenger, ASLA, CPH

Forget about keeping up with the Jones’, it was the Green’s that dominated residential trends in 2009. With about two dozen pilot projects now certified at various levels in the LEED for Neighborhood Development as of December 2009, the future of neighborhood design and planning is looking even greener.

In a way, it’s an attempt to return to the days before the automobile ruled the road and became the most influential component in city and regional planning. Way before it was possible for a New Yorker to sample fruit from South America, spices from India, and fish from the Pacific Ocean without leaving their town. The LEED-ND program is championing the effort to revive concepts of community connectivity, living and purchasing locally, and working where you live.

Whether you call the East coast or West coast home, or somewhere in between, there are LEED-ND neighborhoods taking shape somewhere near you.

The Yards, located in southeast DC along the Anacostia River, is the district’s newest riverfront destination. Earning its LEED-ND Gold certification and currently in development, The Yards is a 42-acre mixed-use neighborhood complete with retail, restaurants, housing, office space, and parks. And it’s all within walking distance of some of D.C.’s biggest landmarks, like Nationals Ballpark and Capitol Hill.

“We are thrilled to be included in the LEED ND program and were very happy when we achieved our Stage 2 Gold certification,” says Ramsey Meiser, Senior Vice President of Development at Forest City Washington. “We believe this accomplishment will be helpful as we market The Yards to our office, retail, and residential users.”

The Mueller neighborhood in Austin, Texas is the largest of the certified LEED-ND projects, at 704-acres comprised of residential, retail, and the first hospital in the world to receive a LEED Platinum certification, all located on the site of the former Austin airport.

In a recent press release, Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC president, CEO & founding chair stated, “LEED for Neighborhood Development goes beyond individual green buildings and focuses on community-wide design and development. By achieving stage-2 LEED Silver certification for its plans, the Mueller community has designated itself as a community leading the way for the development of smarter and healthier communities throughout the U.S., saving families money while nurturing their health.”

Catellus Developing Group joined the City of Austin to manage the development of Mueller. “Sustainable design, whether in stores, offices, homes or parks, must incorporate environmental, economic and lifestyle considerations in order to be successful in this day and age,” said Greg Weaver, managing director for Catellus. “These considerations are plentiful throughout Mueller as it exists today, and we’re just getting started.”

Affordable housing is also raising the green standard with neighborhoods such as the Benedict Park Place in Denver, Colorado, earning its LEED Gold certification. The neighborhood is an award-winning residential complex that succeeds in connecting working-class residents to downtown Denver, midtown and other neighborhoods while providing a safe and sustainable atmosphere.

“The LEED-ND Pilot program has proven to be a very rewarding process for us that was complementary to our development of affordable housing,” says Ryan G. Tobin, Esq., Development Program Manager at the Denver Housing Authority and the Owner’s Rep for Benedict Park Place. “It has served as a resource and framework by which we have embraced and will continue to utilize in our planning efforts now and in the future.”

In a statement from USGBC, Meghan Bogaerts explains, “USGBC is very pleased with the results of the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) pilot program, which has provided us with a wealth of information about the pilot system’s real world application over the last few years. The soon to be released LEED-ND 2009 rating system, which is posted publicly on our website, is undeniably stronger than the previous version because of the invaluable feedback we received from pilot project teams.”

With regards to what the future will hold for the program, Bogaert continues, “We expect to open project registration for the rating system in 2010, and have already received a steady stream of inquiries from project teams eager to register. Moreover, 2010 is shaping up to be an exciting year as we develop additional resources for project teams and local governments, enabling them to accomplish their sustainability goals through LEED for Neighborhood Development.”

For more information on these and more LEED-ND certified neighborhoods:,,

This article originally appeared in 3 Design Consulting’s e-newsletter, Sustainability Monthly Report. To subscribe to the newsletter, email with ‘subscribe’ in the subject line.

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