5.0 Building & Neighborhood Design (LEED)

Background

Increasing energy costs, scarcity of building materials and a concern regarding air and water quality associated with development have resulted in a new generation of building and site design standards which address these concerns through the use of energy saving building design, recycled materials and the use of landscape and other techniques to reduce overall energy consumption and environmental impact. Many of these practices come under the broad umbrella of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED). LEED is a third-party certification program and the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance “green buildings.”

Developed by the U.S Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED is intended to provide building owners and operators the tools they need to have an immediate and measurable impact on their buildings’ performance, utilizing metrics such as energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Key Areas of Human & Environmental Health

LEED promotes a whole-building approach to sustainability by recognizing performance in five key areas of human and environmental health:
1. sustainable site development
2. water savings
3. energy efficiency
4. materials selection
5. indoor environmental quality

Source: (U.S Green Building Council)

The LEED green building certification program encourages and promotes global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through a suite of rating systems (Figure E-3) that recognize projects that implement strategies for better environmental and health performance.

Figure E-3 - LEED Rating System

Figure E-3 LEED Rating System

Source: U.S Green Building Council

LEED Details

Since its inception in 1998, the U.S Green Building council has grown to encompass more than 14,000 projects in the United States and 30 countries covering 1.062 billion square feet (99 km²) of development area. The hallmark of LEED is that it is an open and transparent process where the technical criteria proposed by USGBC members are publicly reviewed for approval by the almost 20,000 member organizations that currently constitute the USGBC.

In 2009, the USBGC, in partnership with the Congress for New Urbanism (CNU) and Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) developed a rating system for “Green Neighborhood Development,” representing a more “holistic” approach to land development than simply “green buildings.” The LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) system includes three categories: Smart Location and Linkage, Neighborhood Pattern and Design, and Green Infrastructure and Buildings.

According to CNU, this new rating system will help to achieve environmental sustainability by incorporating high-performance “green” buildings in compact, mixed-use neighborhoods that reduce driving by making walking and transit attractive options for commuting and other trips. Huntersville’s land development regulations are consistent with many of the LEED-ND criteria, resulting in developments which reflect LEED principles and are consistent with sustainable land development practices.