Regional Sustainability One Building at a Time

Apr 20, 2011
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Last week MWCOG released a report on LEED certified green building from 2003 through 2009 in metro Washington. The report Green Building Trends demonstrates that LEED the U.S. Green Building Council’s voluntary certification program has had a significant impact upon the region’s long term sustainability by encouraging energy efficient and locationally efficient buildings.

Traditionally the LEED certification process targeted a building’s energy consumption but recent updates have added credits for efficient location choices. The impact of these additions is evidenced by the location of the LEED certified projects in this report – the majority of projects were located within major employment centers and within a half of a mile of Metrorail or commuter rail stations.

These results were the product of scoring criteria in the LEED certification process which encourages context sensitive site selection access to public transportation and wastewater management. Most importantly LEED certified buildings have had a dramatically different regional dispersion pattern than general commercial construction in metro Washington. Most LEED projects are located in closer to the core while the majority of general commercial construction projects are located in the region’s periphery.

MWCOG has identified fifty-nine Regional Activity Centers which represent the region’s hubs of commercial activity. These centers are used as an analytic tool to measure the impact for many of MWCOG’s programs and Region Forward captures these measurements to track the region’s long term progress toward its goals and targets.

Seventy percent of all LEED projects certified between 2003 and 2009 were located within Regional Activity Centers. In comparison forty to fifty percent of general commercial construction projects are located within Regional Activity Centers.

Additionally 64 percent of the square feet of LEED certified projects included in this study were located within one half mile of a Metrorail or commuter rail station. For contrast these station areas capture between 15 and 35 percent of general commercial construction square feet annually. From 2003 to 2009 LEED certified construction represented a two to three fold increase in the portion of square feet located within these station areas. Encouraging more projects to locate within walking distance of major rail transportation station areas provides valuable momentum toward complete sustainable communities with employment retail and housing options.

Green Building Trends demonstrates that incentives for comprehensive building and site efficiency like LEED certification can generate organic smart growth.

Ryan Hand

 
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