Ballot Brings LEED-ND One Crucial Step from Launch

CNU Members Encouraged to Vote on Rating System by September 17

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The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is requesting the input of its members on whether to approve the current version of LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) 2009 rating system.

After six years and many revisions, the nation's first system to rate and certify green neighborhoods is now at a point where the three partner organizations overseeing its creation — CNU, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) are each conducting votes to determine whether it is approved for public launch. CNU is asking its full membership to participate in this decision.

CNU's member ballot starts today, August 19, and will be conducted online at for 30 days — closing Thursday, September 17. In order to take part in this electronic ballot, members must be a current CNU member and will need their login.

Where earlier systems developed by LEED focused primarily on the green characteristics of individual buildings, LEED-ND represents a breakthrough in acknowledging the major role neighborhood context plays in determining the environmental impact of construction, affecting everything from the emissions generated by users traveling to and from buildings to the stormwater impact of parking lots and other infrastructure. Combining the principles of green building, new urbanism, and smart growth, the system confirms that the form of green neighborhoods is walkable neighborhoods where housing mixes with shops, offices, parks, and other amenities and buildings incorporate green features and techniques.

By encouraging broad member participation in the vote, CNU is recognizing that the design, development, and policy expertise of its members helped shape the system through multiple revisions. "Over the years, CNU members helped improve the system's ability to assess the degree to which projects embrace the principles of the Charter of the New Urbanism. Now they have a chance to vote on the outcome of that work," says CNU President and CEO John Norquist. The Charter was put to a similar vote in 1996 and CNU members voted to ratify it.

Participating in this vote will have benefits for members as well, said Norquist. "In coming years, new urbanists will have more frequent opportunities to have neighborhood-scale projects certified under the system. And in a broader way they'll see elements of LEED-ND influence policies and codes in the regions where they practice. So this is an important time for members to review program details and vote before they see the influence of the system spread." CNU members on the LEED-ND core committee, including Victor Dover, Doug Farr, and Susan Mudd, have signed a letter to CNU members recommending approval of LEED-ND.

CNU is encouraging members to discuss the pros and cons of the current version of the LEED-ND rating system on the CNU salons, the organization’s online blog. Members are currently reflecting on the potential of LEED-ND to introduce a new audience to the principles of New Urbanism in a whole new way. USGBC has 8,000 commercial buildings registering for LEED status each year, representing 5% of the commercial building market. Other blog topics include the potential for future versions of the rating system, as part of USGBC’s improvement cycle, to address any current shortcomings and flaws. To follow or participate in the discussion, check out the CNU Salons.

For more information on voting and additional review materials, visit the CNU LEED-ND website.

Image: Learning how the rating system works by applying it to a sample project in Denver Co.