Full-fledged LEED-ND under way

The LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) program officially opened for registration April 29, and enrolled 15 projects during its first four weeks of operation. In addition, 20 projects that were in a pilot program that got under way in 2007 have decided to move into the full-fledged LEED-ND program.

In all, 238 projects in the US, Canada, and overseas participated in the pilot program, which was intended to test how the US Green Building Council’s LEED green building system could be adapted to encourage development of energy-efficient, environmentally responsible neighborhoods.

LEED-ND, formulated by the US Green Building Council, the Congress for New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council with additional help from Smart Growth America, encourages the creation of compact and complete neighborhoods with walkable streets, appropriately-scaled schools, and a mix of amenities close by.

One measure of LEED-ND’s quick success at gaining acceptance within government circles was the announcement May 21 by Shaun Donovan, US secretary of Housing and Urban Development, that HUD will use the LEED-ND rating system as a factor in the department’s grant-making.

This month the Green Building Council expects to announce a grant program called Affordable Green Neighborhoods. Sophie Lambert, who manages LEED-ND for the Council, says the grant program will give financial assistance, education, and training to a select group of LEED-ND projects that “have demonstrated strong commitment to providing affordable housing.” The focus of the grants, she says, will be on “mixed-income projects in previously developed locations.”

Any project that registers for LEED-ND is entitled to a free introductory call. For a small fee, a project can find out whether it is eligible for LEED-ND before paying the larger fee for full certification. Of the 238 projects in the pilot program, 140 submitted for a review, and 75 of those completed one stage of certification. Some other projects dropped out for economic or other reasons. The laborious task of devising the LEED-ND rating system began about six years ago.

The project that’s farthest along is the Simpson Wisser neighborhood for Army families at the US Army Pacific headquarters at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. That neighborhood is being developed by the Army and its development partner, Actus Lend Lease. For more, see www.gbci.org.