On April 29th, USGBC officially launched the latest version of the LEED Rating System. More than eight years since its initial conception and three years following the launch of its pilot program, LEED for Neighborhood Development (or LEED-ND) is finally introduced. The rating system, which USGBC claims is the first national system for neighborhood design, integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building.
The following is a quick primer for those who are unfamiliar with the new system.
A Collaborative Program
LEED-ND is the product of a partnership between the U.S. Green Building Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Each entity brought a unique perspective to the table and as a result the rating system developed around three basic principles: green building, smart growth, and new urbanism. Indeed, LEED-ND differs from previous LEED rating systems in the sense that it focuses on location and land use rather than individual buildings.
Categories and Points
Similar to other LEED rating systems, LEED-ND is a point based system complete with prerequisites. At 110 total possible points, LEED-ND is aligned with rest of the LEED 2009 family. However, this rating system only features three primary point categories: Smart Location & Linkage; Neighborhood Pattern & Design; and Green Infrastructure & Buildings. In addition, the system also includes the Innovation & Design Process and Regional Priority Credit categories.
While there is no minimum or maximum size, LEED-ND was designed for projects with at least 2 buildings and a project site up to 320 acres. The system does require at least one certified green building (though, not necessarily through LEED).
Due to the relatively long timeline of the real estate development process, LEED-ND is designed to feature three completely separate stages of certification:
Stage 1 – Conditionally Approved Plan: provides projects with “conditional approval” before they have completed the entitlements.
Stage 2 – Pre-Certified Plan: allows projects to obtain “pre-certification” to help secure financing, expedite permitting, and/or attract tenants.
Stage 3 – Certified Neighborhood Development: provides LEED certification for completed projects.
Before embarking on any stage of certification, project teams may opt for a Smart Location & Linkage (SLL) Prerequisite Review to verify that the project location is eligible for LEED-ND. Also, projects are not required to complete stages 1 and 2 in order to obtain stage 3 certification.
Perhaps the most controversial aspect of LEED-ND is its fee structure. As of this writing, the registration fee is $1,500. The SLL Prerequisite Review is $2,250 (flat fee). The initial stage review fee is $18,000 for the first 20 acres, then $350 for each additional acre (with a cap of $123,000). All subsequent stage review fees are $10,000 for the first 20 acres, then $350 for each additional acre (with a cap of $115,000). These fees do not include premiums for expedited reviews or the additional fees for CIRs or appeal reviews. In addition, there are currently no discounts for USGBC members.
LEED-ND is an important, well thought out addition to the LEED family. LEED needed a system to address the broader neighborhood scale and now it finally has one.
For more information about LEED for Neighborhood Development, please visit: http://www.usgbc.org/leed/nd