CNU Members Overwhelmingly Approve LEED-ND

Green neighborhood rating system endorsed in first-ever online member ballot

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The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) requested the input of its members on whether to approve the current version of the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) 2009 rating system. The online ballot was open for 30 days — from August 19 to September 17, 2009 — and members logged in to to place their vote.

The results were overwhelmingly in favor of launching LEED-ND, 94 percent to 6 percent. Once the polls closed, the CNU board verified the vote and unanimously approved going forward with the launch.

“Thank you to all the members who weighed in on this important decision,” stated John Norquist. "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. The ballot result confirms their work.” All told, 249 or just under 10 percent of CNU’s members voted, a number Norquist said represented a pretty favorable participation rate considering the level of detail in the rating system.

On Tuesday, CNU reported the results to the two partners it joined in creating LEED-ND, the U.S. Green Building Council and Natural Resources Defense Council. The launch of LEED-ND depends on approval from all three partners, each using its own decision-making process. USGBC is also conducting a ballot with a review body constructed for this vote. It will be wrapping up its ballot shortly. NRDC has polled the boards of NRDC and Smart Growth America. In the partnership, NRDC represented the Smart Growth movement. Its approval process has also resulted in unanimous approval.

If polling results from USGBC are positive, LEED-ND will be closer to reaching the marketplace, with only operational issues to resolve before a formal launch. 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.

To learn more about LEED-ND, visit

Image: CNU 17 attendees apply the LEED-ND system criteria to a Denver-area new urbanist development.