This month’s Gotham Gazette features a fascinating article by Tom Angotti that explores the new LEED for Neighborhood Development standard (“LEED-ND”). In addition to highlighting the relatively low number of LEED-certified buildings in New York City (of the fifteen certified buildings within the five boroughs, ten are in Manhattan, and three of these belong to public agencies), Angotti explores the relationship between individual projects and the neighborhoods around them. (Full disclosure: Dr. Angotti was one of my favorite grad school planning professors).
While he applauds the thinking behind developing LEED-ND certification, Angotti suggests that the attempt to create a green neighborhood seal of approval may add up to nothing more than a self-promotional tool employed by developers. He also suggests that the criteria for awarding points within the system doesn’t work as well in New York City, given that we already have a far-reaching public transportation system and that many LEED-certified developments are populated primarily by higher-income folks.
He turns a critical eye to three of the eight pilot projects in New York: Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards, New York City’s redevelopment of Willets Point in Queens, and the expansion of Columbia University in Morningside Heights (see image above). In the case of Atlantic Yards, the rating system will award the project points for being close to mass transit, even though its environmental impact study found that it will encourage auto use. Angotti suggests that the key for the system’s improvement is better community-based planning and more input from local residents