9-line access access management access point accessibility ADA air quality alignment amenity antiplanner atlanta BART BID bike Blogs boston branded bus branded buses brookings brt bus Bus Rapid Transit BYU capacity car pool cars central link Centrality certification commuter rail condo conformity congestion congestion pricing connections consistency coverage crossings CRT cycling DART dedicated dedicated right of way density denver depreciation developers development dynamic pricing economics efficiency Envision Utah equity eugene exclusive extension FAQ favela Federal Funding Flex Bus florida free fare zone freeways Frequent Transit Network frontrunner frontunner Gallivan garden cities gas prices geotagging goat Google grade-separation Granary District growth headway heavy rail hedonic High Speed Rail history housing housing affordability housing bubble housing prices HOV income infill innovative intersections intensity ITS junk science LA land use LEED legacy city light rail linear park location LRT lyft M/ART malls mapping maps market urbanism metrics metro MetroRail missoula mixed mixed traffic mixed-traffic mobile mode choice Mode Share multi-family MXD neighborhood networks news NIMBY office online op-ed open letter Operations parking parking meters peak travel pedestrian environment phasing Photomorphing planning Portland property property values Provo proximity quality_transit rail railvolution rant rapid rapid transit RDA real estate redevelopment reliability research retail Ridership ridesharing right of way roadway network ROW salt lake city san diego schedule schedule span seattle separated shuttle silver line single family SLC SLC transit master plan slums smartphone snow sprawl standing stop spacing streetcar streetscape streetscaping subdivision subsidy Sugarhouse Sugarhouse Streetcar Tacoma taxi technology tenure termini time-separation TOD townhouse traffic signal tram transit transit networks transit oriented development Transit Planning transponder transportation travel time TRAX trip planning trolley tunnel uber university of utah urban design urban economics urban land UTA UTA 2 Go Trip Planner utah Utah County Utah Transit Authority vmt walking distance web welfare transit Westside Connector WFRC wheelchairs zoning

Sunday, June 19, 2011

LEED and Developers

LEED refers to "Leadership in Environmental Efficiency in Design". It's a certification program run by the US Green Building Council, as a way to 'brand' sustainability, using a ratings system to establish how sustainable a building has been.

Various Federal agencies, State and local governments have supported sustainable building practices directly. Not just by endorsing LEED, but also by mandating that their own structures be LEED certified--a trend which appears to be spreading. Some places in California have also induced private developers to prefer LEED--in one case by having a separate queue for development review for LEED projects.

Developers are equivocal. While their is a growing recognition that LEED certified buildings do deliver in terms of lower construction costs and lower energy operating costs, LEED is regarded as complicated and time consuming. From developers, I hear: "It takes too long to certify a building--the approval process necessary to get a sticker is not worth the additional time it takes to do the development." In addition, receiving LEED certification required rigorous documentation of source materials and disposal options, resulting in additional cost an uncertainty.

LEED certification is controlled by the U.S. Green Building Council. While a non-profit, there are accusations that the cost of obtaining materials necessary to obtain and maintain certification are too high, and that the process of getting a building certified is tied up in development.

Perhaps city planners LEED certified, so they can check a building, rather than having a certified official at the LEED agency doing so. That would put the burden for development approval on local government. Planning and permitting would need to be able to evaluate LEED as well as compliance with building code, fire code, and zoning code, as well as assessing development impact fees. This seems possible-cities already use uniform national codes for evaluating traffic impacts, fire and structural safety. Most of planner labor (and stress) comes from local, highly specific issues regarding the zoning code. Applying an accepted national standard such as LEED seems plausible.