Neighborhood Rating


The draft LEED 2012 rating systems were released for public comment today. The proposals contain new and revised credits that relate to the location, transportation options, and urban design of projects. Here I’ll review the changes that are of greatest interest to new urbanism and smart growth advocates.

The following proposals are in the Building Design & Construction document, which includes most of the LEED rating systems. “LT” stands for Location and Transportation, which is a new category within LEED systems.

Please note that “LEED 2012″ is my own personal shorthand for these draft proposals. The more accurate and official term is “proposed update to LEED” with no year associated.

LT Prerequisite: Bicycle Storage

LEED has been critiqued for a variety of flaws both real and alleged. But one thing you can always count on is a mention of the bike rack credit. Every critic or reporter has a sworn duty to point out that bike racks can earn a LEED credit point. Installing bike racks is cheap and easy compared to (for instance) making buildings more energy efficient, and may be worth the same number of credit points. This has consistently been presented as an example of LEED illogic.

Worry no longer! Installing bike racks is now a prerequisite for all LEED projects, except for those in totally unbikeable locations. The racks have to be safe and convenient — no stashing behind garbage dumpsters. Residential projects provide additional bike storage for their residents.

This prerequisite is both functional and symbolic, providing a visible signal that transportation mode choice is an essential aspect of LEED. Also, creating a bicycle storage prerequisite allows the bar to be raised for performance in the “Bicycle Network, Storage and Changing Rooms” credit.

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This summer, members of the Congress for the New Urbanism will vote on LEED for Neighborhood Development. LEED-ND is a system for rating the sustainability of neighborhoods. The vote is a membership referendum on whether CNU endorses the release of LEED-ND in its present state. To encourage informed participation in the vote, the DC chapter of CNU has released An Introduction to LEED-ND for CNU Members.

The six-page article covers the essential points that CNU members should know as they consider their ballot. Topics include the background of LEED, how the system is administered, credits of special interest to new urbanism, what the system does and does not do, and the purpose and meaning of the vote. The article is written by Laurence Aurbach, CNU DC Chapter secretary and member of the LEED Location and Planning Technical Advisory Group.

Cross-posted from CNU DC

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