Wednesday, January 20, 2010

LEED for Neighborhood Development: The New Kid on the Block

Images: (left) The Yards, Washington DC; (middle) Benedict Park Place, Denver, CO; (right) Mueller neighborhood, Austin, TX.

By 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:,,

Send suggestions of case study projects to Jill Bellenger at

2009-2010: New Challenges and New Ideas

By Ed LeBard, Associate AIA | LEED AP+
With one of the most trying years in the construction industry officially in the books, the USGBC announced significant marks and changes throughout the LEED community. This article summarizes these points that will greatly impact the rapidly growing green construction arena.

- 27,373 people attended the GreenBuild conference in Phoenix, Arizona on November 11-13, 2009.*

- From 2000 through 2008, according to USGBC, there were 2,238 LEED-certified projects. A record 2,090 projects achieved certification in 2009. That translates to 49% of all certifications in LEED's 9 year history occurring during the last 12 months with the overall tally now at 4,238 certified projects. *

- As of December 5th, 2009, 4,238 LEED projects out of 26,385 registered achieved certification, a success rate of 16.0% . This is an improvement over the 12.6% success rate achieved from 2000 - 2008.*

1) LEED project registration fees will double by January 11, 2010:(from**
Current Registration Fees: Effective through January 10, 2010
- USGBC Members: $450
- Non Members: $600

Project Registration Fees:
Effective on January 11, 2010
- USGBC Members: $900
- Non Members: $1,200

2) LEED project certification fees will increase substantially by January 11, 2010:
Green Building Certification Institute - LEED Registration and Certification Fees

3) The US Green Building Council also introduced the latest LEED rating versions - LEEDv3 for the following ratings:
- LEED - BD+C (New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Healthcare*, Retail*)
- LEED - EBO&M (Existing Building Operations and Maintenance, Existing Schools*)
- LEED - ID+C (Commercial Interiors, Retail Interiors*)
- LEED - ND (Neighborhood Development -release date sometime in 2010)*

*under development or in pilot

4) For LEED APs accredited since 2000 (version 1.0 through version 2.2), they are given several options:
1) Do nothing and automatically become a Legacy LEED AP without specialty in the LEED Professional Directory
2) Sign up onto the new Credential Maintenance Program requirements (CMP) by 2011 (or 2 years after your exam) and fulfill roughly 30 continuing education units in 24 months. Enrollment must occur during your enrollment window,
3) Become a LEED AP with Specialty by passing one of the new specialty exams. Current LEED APs would only take 1 exam (specialty part of the exam). When applying for the exam, you will need to sign onto the disciplinary policy and agree to the CMP. Once you pass the exam, you may use one of the new specialty designations (BD+C, EBO+M, ID+C) after your name.
4) If your enrollment window expired without updating to LEED AP with specialty, and you decided to update, you must apply and take both the LEED Green Associate (LEED GA) exam as well as the specialty exam. The fees for both exams, plus 2 year CMP fee, can total over $800.

5) LEED APs and the Credential Maintenance Program (CMP)
According to the USGBC and GBCI (Green Building Certification Institute), as of Jan 1, 2010, roughly 11.1% of 135,000 LEED APs worldwide have signed onto the new CMP program and will take the specialty exam to become LEED AP+. The low number of signees indicates that current LEED APs are uncertain of the direction of the USGBC's credential program and many blogs / social sites are filled with LEED APs protesting the increasing exam fees, 2 year maintenance fees, multi-layered requirements. There seems to be a minor backlash brewing in that regard.

If a LEED AP wants to add a specialty, the requirements are that to earn 30 continuing education hours (CEUs) in 2 years, those 30 are split into 7 specific categories. Each category has a minimum number of required hours. For instance, "project site factors" requires 4 hours, "project systems & energy impacts" requires 6 hours.

Once the LEED AP pick from the categories, the format then requires them to be specific as to what sub-category the hour focused on. These categories were briefly touched upon in the CMP guide but not explained in more depth. They do not mention the LEED AP would be forced to earn credits in all of these categories. Also, the GBCI allows some CEUs earned to satisfy professional licensures (i.e. AIA, ASLA, CID) rollover to satisfy LEED AP CMP requirements.

If the LEED AP wants to have more than 1 specialty, the LEED AP would have to fulfill CMP for each specialty. The LEED AP would select the primary specialty and maintain 30 hours of CEUs, while the secondary specialty would be fulfilled by an additional 6 hours of CEUs, which would bring the total of CEUs to 36. The CMP fee would still be $50 per specialty.

For people interested in becoming a new LEED AP candidate must have experience in the form of documented professional experience on a LEED project, within the last 3 years, with verification through LEED Online or employer verification. Candidates are also required to agree to the Disciplinary and Exam Appeals Policy and Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) and submit to an application audit.

6) The Credential Maintenance Program (CMP) and Continuing Education Units (CEU)
GBCI approved CEU courses are few and far between. More courses will become available as the CMP system evolves. Some ways to earn CEU hours are to view USGBC webinars, author published reports, and work on a LEED registered project. GBCI specified that for each credit you personally complete and upload documentation for, you can get 1 CEU hour, and get up to 10 hours using this method.

Other methods listed by the GBCI are: Professional development/continuing education courses, college courses, self-study (up to 5hrs), committee and volunteer work at events, and authorship.

So between project work, volunteer work, and study hours, the LEED AP can get some free or cheap CEU hours over the 2 year time period.

7) The Numbers Behind the LEED AP Directory:
The GBCI directory listed the following as of Jan 1st, 2010:
- Everyone (GA, AP, and AP w/ Specialties): 126,939
- LEED APs without specialty: 109,249
- LEED APs with specialty 'only': total of 13,680 (11.1% of all LEED APs have a specialty)
- LEED AP BD+C : 11,839
- LEED AP ID+C: 1,078
- LEED AP O&M: 583
- LEED AP for Homes: 180
- LEED AP ND : Beta Exam currently underway
- LEED Green Associates: 3,550

* (US Green Building Council)
** (Green Building Certification Institute)

Sustainability in the News

1) Austin Climate Protection Conference & Expo (January 15 & 16, 2010)

2)USGBC Maryland - 5th Annual Awards Celebration (January 28, 2010)

3) China adapts law to boost energy renewable industry (Article dated Dec 26, 2009)

BEIJING: China's national assembly Saturday signalled the country's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adopting a law supporting its renewable energy industry.

The new law, an amendment to one on renewable energy adopted by the National People's Congress standing committee, obliges electricity grid companies to buy all the power produced by renewable sources.

It also empowers the State Council's energy department, the electricity regulatory agency and its finance departments to determine the amount of renewable energy available in the country's overall power generating capacity.

Power companies will be obliged to take up all of that capacity, and those refusing to do so will be fined an amount up to double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, Ni Yuefeng, vice-president of the assembly's environmental affairs commission, told reporters.

The law was adopted after China was criticised for obstructing the adoption of a treaty on climate change during last week's international summit in Copenhagen.

The new law in fact showed China's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, Ni said.

"The new law will help China reduce its emission of greenhouse gases in a voluntary manner," Ni told a briefing.

Green Tip of the Month

With the Christmas shopping season over and the country recovers from retail overload, it’s time to see how our favorite brands stack up when it comes to emissions, energy efficiency, and avoiding harmful ingredients and chemicals.

National Geographic has their own buying guide that’s extremely user friendly:, as well as my personal favorite and one of PC Magazine’s Top 100 Web Sites of 2009, the Good Guide, focuses on food, personal care, and toys.