It doesn’t matter how many advanced sustainable strategies you have in your building, if it is contributing to sprawl, it is not sustainable. To be sustainable, start with placing the building in a compact, mixed use, walkable and transit-friendly location. These are some of the goals behind LEED for Neighborhood Development, the USGBC’s Pilot program for communities, a new metric for measuring Smart Growth and Environmentally Responsible Development.
Weber Thompson is working on three of the 238 projects accepted into the pilot program. One of these is our own neighborhood. The City of Seattle engaged us to help evaluate how the South Lake Union Urban Center, performs against LEED-ND. While most of the 238 Pilot Program’s applicants are new developments by a private developer, the South Lake Union neighborhood is fairly unique in that it is City sponsored, is based on the City plan and is being implemented by multiple developers. While it gave us the opportunity to evaluate the applicability of LEED-ND in a highly-urbanized, already-developed area, it is also giving the City of Seattle information necessary to guide future neighborhood and City policies. Our other LEED ND project, Sweetwater in Hailey, Idaho, gives us the opportunity to test the program application in a small town and compare the differences between the two vastly different types of locations.
We are in the final stages of certification for both projects and will keep you posted on results. You can also hear more at our presentation during the 2009 Washington Association of Landscape Architects Conference “Engaging Change: A Greener Perspective” on Friday April 3, 2009 at the Seattle Center.