LEED for Neighborhood Development has been launched to encourage development within or near existing communities and/or public infrastructure in order to reduce the environmental impacts of sprawl. The new rating system was developed in cooperation with USGBC, Natural Resources Defense Council and Congress for the New Urbanism. The program intends to benefit communities by reducing sprawl, increasing transportation choices, encouraging healthy living and protecting threatened species. The scope of LEED for Neighborhood Development projects can range from small projects to whole communities. Projects are measured on acreage – the first LEED rating system to use a measurement other than square footage.
The rating system conserves land and promotes transportation efficiency and walkability. A 2008 study found that households in automobile-dependent communities devote 50% more money – more than $8500 annually- to transportation. Projects certifying under the program must achieve points in three major environmental categories:
- Smart location and linkage
- Neighborhood pattern and design, and
- Green infrastructure and buildings across a 110-point scale.