Working Together with LEED-ND and the EcoDistricts Protocol

Support from our Founding Members is integral in helping us deliver content and programs and create impact in districts and neighborhoods. Our Founding Members offer more than just financial support – they are our close partners, working to help create more sustainable neighborhoods across the globe.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) and its community are changing the way buildings and communities are designed, built and operated. USGBC works toward its mission of market transformation through its LEED green building certification program, robust educational offerings, a nationwide network of chapters and affiliates, the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and advocacy in support of public policy that encourages and enables green buildings and sustainable communities. Industry-led and consensus-driven, USGBC is as diverse as the marketplace it serves. Leaders from a diverse cross-section of market sectors participate in the development of the LEED certification system and the direction of the organization through volunteer service on USGBC’s open committees.

USGBC’s LEED program is the foremost program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings, homes and communities. By using less energy, LEED-certified spaces save money for families, businesses and taxpayers; reduce carbon emissions; and contribute to a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community. Since the launch of the first LEED rating system in 2000, five distinct rating systems with numerous adaptations have evolved to address unique space types and applications.

Developed in partnership between USGBC, the Congress for New Urbanism and the National Resources Defense Council, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) integrates the principles of green buildings, urbanism and smart growth into the first national system for neighborhood planning and design.

LEED ND and the EcoDistricts Protocol are complementary programs. Where LEED-ND addresses master planning through new construction or major redevelopment with prerequisites and credits leading to a formal certification, EcoDistricts supports both new and existing communities with a process and performance framework. In addition to serving as a planning and design tool by developers, LEED-ND can also serve as a sustainability tool for local governments looking to evaluate existing plans and regulations or offer incentives to bring more sustainable development to their communities. The majority of the almost 150 projects that have participated in the LEED-ND program have been driven by private developers, nonprofit developers or housing authorities, or public-private partnerships. Below are three LEED-ND pilot projects that reflect the goals of the program (sustainable locations, efficient design, and green buildings and infrastructure):

USGBC_Mapleton Community GardenMapleton-Fall Creek 20/21 (Indianapolis, IN) – Mapleton-Fall Creek Development Corporation (MFCDC) is a nonprofit community development corporation working to stabilize and revitalize one of the most impoverished and disinvested urban neighborhoods in Indianapolis. An intensive four-day workshop organized by NRDC and LISC in August 2011 helped MFCDC and the community coalesce around the principals of community sustainability and the use of LEED-ND as an implementation tool. MFCDC’s 20/21 Project is characterized by multiple stakeholders and numerous scattered site redevelopment projects. With the help of a USGBC Affordable Green Neighborhoods grant award, MFCDC’s 20/21 Project has successfully utilized LEED-ND criteria to guide their development work. In addition to renovating historic homes into eco-housing, MFCDC has developed pocket parks, a community garden, and streetscape improvements.

USGBC_Mueller Sunflowers (no permission)Mueller (Austin, TX) – Mueller is the redevelopment of a more than 700-acre former airport within close proximity to downtown Austin. The mixed-income, mixed use project developed by Catellus Development Group and the City of Austin in a public-private partnership is intended to house 13,000 people with more than 5,700 homes; host 13,000 jobs with 4.2 million square feet of non-residential square footage; and preserve 140 acres of public open space. A 20+ year public involvement process helped to ensure that the development provided at least 25% of its housing at affordable price points and included cultural amenities such as a performing arts center, open-air amphitheater created from a historic airport hangar and a lake surrounded by endangered Blackland Prairie naturalized landscaping. Innovative strategies that lead to the project earning LEED-ND Gold are recycling old runway materials into street construction, public art that also provides street lighting, and developing an on-site cooling-heating-power plant to provide power for the development and chilled water to condition nearby employment centers and a hospital.

USGBC_The Gulch 2 (No Permission)The Gulch (Nashville, TN) – Resulting from collaboration between local community members, a newly formed Business Improvement District and MarketStreet Enterprises, the Gulch, revitalized a forgotten part of downtown Nashville, across the proverbial railroad tracks. The blighted railroad yard with origins dating back to before the Civil War, was converted into a 60-acre urban mixed-use neighborhood governed by an innovative Master Plan which is continually updated by its residents and businesses. The most recent update envisions greater density and community offerings, encompassing over 4,500 residential units, over 1.5 million square feet of commercial office space, and over a half million square feet of retail and restaurants. In addition to the environmental benefits provided by green buildings, infrastructure, compact design and urban location, the Gulch advanced sustainability by preserving existing and historic buildings all responding to community feedback and local government desire for revitalization. The development earned LEED-ND Gold.


  • Community garden at Mapleton Fall Creek (source: USGBC)
  • Retail at The Gulch (source: MarketStreet Enterprises)
  • Sunflower public art lights at Mueller (source: David Newsome)