My column this week is about the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development certification, which D.C. has more of than any one other city–because most of the city is shaped along their criteria anyway. As usual, there were a few interesting bits I couldn't fit. So here they are in a blog post:
- Two of the projects certified in the LEED-ND pilot were actually single buildings: Jair Lynch's Solea, on 14th Street, and 3Tree Flats, which just opened up on Georgia Avenue. I wondered why Lynch chose to go for LEED-ND certification there rather than just the typical program for new construction. He says he participated in the pilot in order to shape the criteria in a more urban direction, rather than have the program just be tailored towards entirely new developments outside the city. "We felt that without single site, smaller projects, the LEED-ND institution could end up just being suburban walkable projects, and not urban projects that had a lot of the great bones already," he says. "If [we] didn’t apply, and the marketplace didn’t respond, they could have retreated to a much tighter definition."
- Another ND project: CityInterest's Parkside-Kenilworth development, which received a Promise Neighborhoods grant. If you want to see what a filled-out checklist looks like, here's something their consultant put together to determine their probable certification level.
- Remember that other column I wrote about why developer clusters are a good thing? Well, the LEED-ND piece is just another dimension of that. JBG, which didn't want to comment for my story on the strategy behind its U Street buys, at a USGBC lecture a couple weeks ago explained its practice of picking several parcels in one small area as a way to protect their investments that had turned into a way to create a superior public space. Now, they're doing a notable LEED-ND development at Twinbrook, and have similar sites up and down the Red Line with the same potential.
- Universities are another good candidate for LEED-ND certification, but none in D.C. have gone for it yet. Instead, American University is participating in a pilot of "LEED for Volume," getting two thirds of its building square footage certified all at once, but along "existing building" criteria, rather than the comprehensive neighborhood-oriented checklist. It's a much cheaper and more efficient process than getting each building certified individually, although many will require upgrades in order to qualify.
- The Southwest Waterfront has a few particularly ambitious plans as part of its LEED-ND qualification, including possibly a cogeneration plant–which would be, as development manager Matt Steenhoek put it, a "pretty big departure from the norm."