How to Tell If Development is Smart and Green

How to Tell If Development is Smart and Green

If you are like most of us, you have wondered whether or not a proposal for new development in your community was a good idea, whether it was environmentally friendly, or whether you should support it.

"A Citizen's Guide to LEED for Neighborhood Development" is a hands-on introduction that NRDC developed for local environmental groups, smart growth organizations, neighborhood residents and just about anyone interested in making our communities better and greener. It is available for free and can be downloaded here (pdf).

LEED-ND is a comprehensive and logical rating system that reflects the most current thinking about smart, green, sustainable, and well-designed neighborhoods. For neighborhood-scale development to be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council as environmentally exemplary, it must meet the criteria contained in the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.

Those projects that score higher under the criteria are awarded higher ratings. Developments and neighborhoods that earn high scores under LEED-ND will generally have lower levels of emissions of carbon and conventional air pollutants; generate less stormwater runoff; use land more efficiently and wisely; conserve natural and material resources better; be more walkable; and promote public health to a greater degree than conventional development. LEED-ND was jointly developed by NRDC, the USGBC, and the Congress for the New Urbanism; it is administered by USGBC.

But the principles embodied in LEED-ND can be applied to situations other than those in which a development is seeking certification. While the formal LEED-ND process is a technical one, the citizen's guide is user-friendly and accessible, to help anyone learn about environmental standards for green land development and become an advocate for implementing these standards in their own communities. NRDC hopes this handbook for citizens will help promote greater widespread adoption of sustainable practices to create more inclusive, healthy, and environmentally sound places for everyone.

More information about the guide, LEED-ND, and a slideshow of sustainable practices is available here.

The full version of this article originally appeared on the NRDC's Switchboard blog and is reprinted with permission.

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Image CC licensed by Flickr user La Citta Vita.