The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is wrapping up its pilot program for LEED for Neighborhood Development, the first national certification system for green neighborhood design and development. It is also the first of the LEED certification programs to seek official status as an American National Standards Institute standard.

A collaboration between the USGBC, the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Natural Resources Defense Council, this certification program integrates the principles of smart growth, new urbanism and green building. The LEED for Neighborhood Development program benefits communities by reducing urban sprawl, increasing transportation choice and decreasing automobile dependence, encouraging healthy living, and protecting threatened species.

The pilot program for LEED ND began in the summer of 2007 and tested about 240 projects. The first public comment period, which ended in January, logged more than 5,000 comments. A second comment period is scheduled for this spring, with the LEED ND ratings system launch expected this summer.

The scope of the LEED for Neighborhood Development program ranges from small projects to whole communities and encompasses a broader set of stakeholders in the process. To ensure every group with a stake in their neighborhood’s future has a chance to ratify the new certification program, USGBC is taking the unprecedented step of pre-identifying a Consensus Body that will vote during the Member Balloting process, which will take place later this year. The Member Ballot will represent the final stage of the process used to approve the LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system.