Conneectivity diagram for LEED Neighborhood Development.

One big shortcoming of the LEED green building code is its focus almost entirely on the building rather than the location. A building could get high marks in LEED with a green roof, cutting-edge stormwater management, effective heat insulation, electricity-saving equipment, and more, but be located in the middle of a former forest where the average employee drives 30 miles to work. Is that really saving the environment?

Enter LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND), a new type of LEED for new large-scale developments. LEED just opened up their draft for public comment. It’s fascinating to read. They have to quantify every element, like whether a site has good linkage to the surrounding neighborhood, or too many dead-end streets within.

The draft also gives points for the bicycle network, buildings fronting onto the street, avoiding blank walls, mixed-income housing, unbundling parking, car sharing, historic preservation, and of course green building practices in the structures themselves.

LEED-ND isn’t replacing the regular building LEED, but it’s bringing good urban design practices into the LEED system. Next, LEED should adapt some of the concepts of LEED-ND into their code for individual buildings, giving more credit to developers who locate their office buildings near transit.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.