recently, one could say much the same about even the U.S. Green Building
Council and LEED, its industry-leading green building rating system. One
can still get the highest possible (platinum) green building rating
even if the building in question is located in the middle of a remote
cornfield, such that visitors emit far more carbon traveling to and from
the building than it theoretically saves with internal green
technology. The argument in favor of bestowing the honor is that the
building was going to be put there in any case: why not make it as green
Well, sure, but one could say the same about
mountaintop removal mining. Should we really be giving prestigious
awards for making it better when the only environmentally sound thing to
do is to discontinue the practice altogether?
For architecture at least, LEED for Neighborhood Development
has changed the game. Created by the U.S. Green Building Council, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the Congress for the
New Urbanism, LEED-ND evaluates both a development's internal
environmental performance and that of its context, resulting in a far
more true green rating. I've written extensively about the system and
needn't repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that, while nothing is
perfect, LEED-ND is a great start to defining what is smart about smart
growth and what is green about true green development.
LEED-ND, its 56 technical prerequisites and credits, its 47-page
"certification policy manual" and 400-page "reference guide," are not for
those short on time and patience for hyper-precise measurement, or for
planning and construction trivia. As good as the system is for technical
evaluation, it is lousy as a public relations instrument.
sorts of responses have cropped up to address that shortcoming, to
develop additional tools that use the basics if not all the details of
LEED-ND to enhance public understanding of what makes for good, green
neighborhood development. They include, for example, NRDC's forthcoming Citizen's Guide to LEED-ND and a slew of products developed by USGBC (such as this slideshow).
But the best to reach the public so far is Neighborhoods Go Green!,
the brainchild of architect Doug Farr. It was
developed by Farr Associates in partnership with USGBC and the Chicago
Architecture Foundation. Its run in Washington will extend through April
21, after which it will travel to additional (but currently
Using large, mural-scaled displays, the
highly visual exhibit is designed to reward both the casual passer-by
and the more sophisticated planning or sustainability junkie. Its
graphics, which include a model green neighborhood, take the viewer
through the following topics:
- Selecting a Smart Site. Where are the
best locations for new green neighborhoods? Learn why selecting a site
near schools, commercial centers, and existing infrastructure such as
public transit is critical to creating sustainable communities.
Lively Places. How do we design vibrant neighborhoods? Discover how a
compact, walkable layout and a mix of shops and housing make lively
- Integrating Buildings and Infrastructure. How can buildings
and infrastructure work together to reduce waste and save energy? See
how innovative water management and energy conservation strategies
create greater sustainability than green buildings can achieve alone.
the Neighborhood. How are green neighborhoods certified? Learn more
about the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system designed by
the U.S. Green Building Council and its partners.
- Designing a Model
Green Neighborhood. What does a green community look like? Explore a
detailed rendering of a model neighborhood that incorporates sustainable