Certified green building projects are on the rise and a future where sustainable residential developments are the norm may not be too far away, says ZweigWhite. “If we can ever get this communicated to the building industry, I can’t imagine building anything any different,” Jim Regan, a developer with Energy Smart Home Builders, the developer for Prairie Ridge Estates, a 132-unit net-zero subdivision in New Lenox, Illinois, recently told The Zweig Letter.
“Green building is the only bright spot of building right now,” said Jason LaFleur, a project manager with the Alliance for Environmental Sustainability, a third-party verifier for LEED homes.
Bryan Jackson, a green and sustainable construction adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and the editor of Green Building Update, said in the June 7 article that recent research predicts a 900 per cent growth in certified green projects worldwide in the next 10 years. Specifically, Green Building Certification Programs by Pike Research 2010 estimates that certified green building projects will grow from six billion sq. ft. this year to 53 billion sq. ft. worldwide by 2020, with almost 20 per cent of these projects coming from the residential sector.
“LEED-ND fits squarely with this projected worldwide growth in certified green projects,” Jackson said. “This third-party green rating systems will verify that a neighbourhood meets important green and sustainable goals, which should result in higher property values, higher rental rates, lower operating costs and a better quality of life and health,” he says.
Projects certifying under LEED-ND (New Development) must achieve points in three major environmental categories: smart location and linkage, neighbourhood pattern and design, and green infrastructure and buildings, across a 110-point scale.
The Urban Land Institute and the Brookings Institution have published demographic data showing younger buyers are more interested in living in urban-like settings, not suburbs. That’s exactly what LEED-ND is trying to attain with a standard that “encourages new urbanism, smart growth and higher density,” said Richard Taylor, principal with Richard Taylor Architects, a three-person firm in Dublin, Ohio.
The possible biggest challenge for LEED-ND is that self-sufficient neighbourhoods don’t sprout overnight with all the commerce, housing and accessibility that make them desirable. Add to that that many blighted urban areas don’t currently have the infrastructure to support this kind of new development, and it becomes clear that private developers and public agencies will have to work more closely to make the green neighbourhood of the future happen.