Neighborhoods taking the LEED
by Jennifer Oladipo
From LEO Weekly, 9/26/07
There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a golden opportunity pass while waiting for the folks in charge to move. Within the last four years or so, environmentally friendly buildings have sprung up around the country with increasing speed, but many communities are itching for change that’s bigger and faster than one business or government building at a time.
Some Clifton residents want to get their own neighborhood into the game, making it a model for how other neighborhoods in Louisville can go green. The Clifton Community Council’s land use and preservation committee was scheduled to discuss how to move the neighborhood toward meeting LEED-ND standards, and possibly even further, at Tuesday’s meeting.
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is the standard for green building. It takes into consideration issues such as building sites, water and energy use, materials and indoor air quality, and is pretty much the only national standard, created by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. Recognizing a need, the council has created a pilot program for neighborhood development, LEED-ND.
LEED standards, quickly adopted by governments from the federal level down, are in a constant state of refinement, and still taking cues from many similar programs.
Clifton is known for being a little bit artsy, a little bit lefty, and has a mix of young and old, renters and homeowners, a few residents who drive BMWs and a few who sleep on benches. The neighborhood is also a geographical lynchpin, located about the same distance from expensive homes in Crescent Hill and St. Matthews as it is from the more modest housing of Butchertown, Clifton Heights and east downtown.
In short, achieving sustainability in the neighborhood would mean negotiating several issues and interests, possibly making Clifton a great place to start a trend and work out kinks. Like other parts of Louisville, it’s filling up with condominiums, small housing communities with shared interests and common rules that could easily implement sustainable standards. Clusters of existing homes on one of Clifton’s many short streets or cul-de-sacs could also come to mutual agreements and pool their resources.
The smallest LEED-ND pilot sites hover around one acre, but sites of all sizes are participating, some with as many as 12,000 acres. No Kentucky cities made the list of more than 200 pilot programs in 37 states, plus Washington, DC, and some Canadian cities. Louisville is home to a handful of LEED-certified buildings, including the Tucker Booker Donhoff + Partners architectural firm on Market Street and the forthcoming downtown arena. With a little neighborly action, the city might someday be able to claim a Frankfort Avenue ecovillage as well. —Jennifer Oladipo