Wednesday, May 28, 2014

LEED ND: Beyond Buildings Attracts Neighborhood Professionals

By Bob Weiss, Sustainable Neighborhood Development Working Group, USGBC MA

Before a spirited crowd filling the seats in the Atlantic Wharf’s Fort Point Room, the USGBC MA Chapter, in conjunction with the Boston Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) and the American Planning Association Massachusetts Chapter (APA-MA), presented a half-day program on LEED ND in Massachusetts communities. Billed as not-a-LEED-101-course, experienced professionals in neighborhood development provided insights and true accounts of their applications of USGBC’s platform to fellow professionals.

After opening comments from the USGBC MA Chapter Chair Jim Newman, LISC’s Bob Van Meter and the APA MA’s Bob Mitchell, the day began with an overall retrospective of LEED ND from the USGBC MA Chapter Vice Chair Neil Angus. Attendees were brought up to date with LEED ND’s evolution including the changes in V4.

Neil then moderated a panel presentation on two LEED ND pilot projects from 2008. The 11 acre Jackson Square project in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain was presented by Carolyn Edwards, Real Estate Project Manager with Urban Edge,who discussed how the project is bringing healthy sustainable living to a mixed-income inner city area with new commercial spaces, community facilities and transportation alternatives to an area that 40 years ago was going to be surrendered to the interstate system. Greg Sampson, a Land Use Attorney with Robinson & Cole presented The Village at Taylor Pond in Bedford, a great example of how LEED ND can be a tool for sustainable development in suburban areas.

Mike Davis, Program Officer with LISC Boston, moderated a panel discussion introducing three new projects illustrating how LEED ND will help build sustainable neighborhoods for the future. Darcy Jameson with Beacon Communities and Lauren Baumann of New Ecology, Inc. noted how Old Colony housing, a traditional public housing project in South Boston used LEED ND to create a holistic approach in transforming it into a neighborhood integrated into a larger urban community. The Neighborhood Developers’ Emily Loomis described how Chelsea’s Box District is turning an older industrial area into a pedestrian oriented community with enhanced transportation that will connect it with the metropolitan area. Paul Malkemes, a local resident and community advocate gave a great resident perspective of how LEED ND was used to drive quality-of-life improvements to Codman Square NDC’s Talbot Norfolk Triangle. Paul said LEED ND was used as a “framing mechanism” and helped residents embrace sustainable development.

Neil, along with Tad Read of the Boston Redevelopment Authority, brought the program together in their presentations on using the LEED ND rating system as a tool to enhance the sustainability of local projects, regulations and development codes.

The audience initiated discussions on several LEED ND subjects such as quantifiable requirements, how to use the system’s formulas to facilitate a project and the importance of public education and outreach. There were detailed questions on using program credits to compliment other credits. Though the event ran to its noon finish, many attendees remained for an informal improvised networking. Chapter organizers have more LEED ND events planned and will be announcing them shortly.  

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