The LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for Neighborhood Development Rating System rates a new community based on the principles of smart growth, urbanism and green building. This provides independent, third-party verification ofa development's location and design to ensure that it meets accepted high levels of environmentally responsible, sustainable development.
Currently in its pilot period, LEED for Neighborhood Development is a collaboration among U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC ), the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. This new rating system will be available to the public in 2009.
Reduce Urban Sprawl
LEED for Neighborhood Development communities are:
This reduces urban sprawl (which is unplanned, uncontrolled spreading of urban development into areas outside of the metropolitan region), and creates more livable communities. Typically, sprawl consumes farmland, forests & wildlife habitat, to cerate low-density automobile-dependent housing and commercial areas, which degrades water quality and increases air pollution.
Encourage healthy living
Compact, walk-able, vibrant, mixed-use neighborhoods are more livable, and encourages foot and bicycle traffic to and within the community, increasing fitness levels, reducing stress, and reducing pollution from automotive exhaust.
Protect threatened species
Many imperilled species suffer when habitat is lost or fragmented. By building within or adjacent to existing development, it minimizes habitat fragmentation and preserves recreational green space.
Increased transportation choice
By providing convenient access to transportation options like buses, trains, car pools, as well as providing for human-powered options like bicycle lanes and sidewalks, or simply being located near downtowns or community centers shorter or fewer automobile trips are needed to live in the community.
Reduced Developer waiting periods and fees
Increasingly, Municipalities are sometimes reducing fees or waiting periods related to the approval process for community projects that can demonstrate a LEED commitment to sustainability.