Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is my 2 year old’s favorite show. Since she could talk, she has looked up at me and asked for, “Rogers?” If you have children, you know, what a 2 year old wants, a 2 year old generally gets. So, I watch Mister Rogers, every day, twice a day. After literally watching hundreds of episodes (most of them at least twenty times) I’ve relearned old songs (“Shoo Turkey Shoo”) and found out that Mister Rogers is just as relevant now as he was when I little. In fact, he was ahead of his time. (In one favorite episode, Mister Rogers test drives an electric car, complete with 15 car batteries linked together to run the car.) After spending many hours in Mister Rogers’ neighborhood, I wondered whether Mister Rogers’ neighborhood is the type of neighborhood that the LEED Neighborhood Development Certification strives for, an integrated neighborhood of smart locations, neighborhood design, and green infrastructure and building.
A seldom discussed LEED certification area is the LEED-ND Certification. By integrating LEED Neighborhood Development polices, profit and non-profit developers, builders, city and neighborhood planners can build a more sustainable, attractive and vibrant community. Here is a brief overview of what the USGBC looks for and the general process for certifying a neighborhood project. Visit the USGBC site (here) for more information regarding getting your project plan certified LEED-ND.
Projects that qualify for LEED for Neighborhood Developments can range from small infill projects to large master planned communities. Existing communities may also be retrofitted using LEED standards and policies.
The following credit categories are included in the rating system:
Smart Location and Linkage assesses location, transportation alternatives, and preservation of sensitive lands and discouraging sprawl.
Neighborhood Pattern and Design assesses overall design for vibrant neighborhoods that are healthy, walkable, and mixed-use.
Green Infrastructure and Buildings assesses the design and construction of buildings and infrastructure that reduce energy and water use, use of sustainable materials, and renovating existing and historic structures.
Innovation and Design Process recognizes exemplary and innovative performance reaching beyond the existing credits in the rating system, as well as the value of including an accredited professional on the design team.
Regional Priority encourages projects to focus on earning credits of significance to the project’s local environment.
There are three stages of certification, which relate to the phases of the real estate development process.
Stage 1 – Conditionally Approved Plan: provides the conditional approval of a LEED-ND Plan available for projects before they have completed the entitlements, or public review, process.
Stage 2 – Pre-Certified Plan: pre-certifies a LEED-ND Plan and is applicable for fully entitled projects or projects under construction.
Stage 3 – Certified Neighborhood Development: completed projects formally apply for LEED certification to recognize that the project has achieved all of the prerequisites and credits attempted.
The rating system can be downloaded for review by interested parties. If you are developing a project its worth taking the time to review the rating system for possible incentives or as an evaluation tool.
Mister Rogers believed strongly in living a deep and simple life. He invested in our future and community. He taught us all to make the same investment. His legacy will always live on through his good work on television. In fact, the Fred M. Rogers Center building officially opened on the Saint Vincent College Campus in October 2008. It’s only fitting that the facility was awarded the LEED gold rating.
We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say ‘It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.’ Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes. -Fred Rogers