The LEED credit system provides a comprehensive approach to sustainable building design and operation, encouraging environmentally responsible practices and promoting healthier, more efficient buildings. It has become a widely recognized and adopted certification program in the construction industry.

The US Green Building Council (USGBC) developed the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit system as a rating system for evaluating and certifying the sustainability of buildings. LEED provides a framework for designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining green buildings.

The LEED credit system is based on a point-based system where projects earn points for various sustainable design and construction practices. These points are then used to determine the level of LEED certification a building can achieve. There are four levels of certification: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. The more points a project earns, the higher the level of certification it can attain.

Projects pursuing LEED certification must meet certain prerequisites in each category and earn a minimum number of points to qualify for certification. The specific requirements and point allocations vary depending on the project type, such as new construction, existing buildings, homes, neighborhoods, and interior fit-outs.

In this installment of our LEED blog series, we explore credits available under Neighborhood Development Location and Sensitive Land Protection.

LEED for Neighborhood Development Location(16 credits) The USGBC’s LEED credit system for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) focuses on sustainable development at the neighborhood level. It aims to promote strategic growth, walkability, and sustainable land use practices while considering social, economic, and environmental factors. LEED-ND provides a framework for evaluating and certifying the sustainability of entire neighborhoods or developments.


1. Smart Location and Linkage (Prerequisite): This prerequisite focuses on choosing development sites that are within or near existing communities and existing infrastructure. It encourages the reuse of previously developed sites and promotes infill development to minimize urban sprawl.

2. Neighborhood Pattern and Design (Prerequisite): This prerequisite encourages the development of compact, walkable neighborhoods with a mix of land uses. It emphasizes the importance of creating pedestrian-friendly streetscapes, connectivity between buildings, and easy access to public amenities.

3. Reduced Automobile Dependence (Credit): This credit promotes sustainable transportation options to reduce reliance on private vehicles. It encourages the provision of bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian-friendly streets, and convenient access to public transit. Projects can earn points by implementing transportation demand management strategies and providing amenities for non-motorized transportation.

4. High-Quality Transit (Credit): This credit rewards projects located near high-quality public transit systems such as light rail, subway, or bus rapid transit. It encourages denser development around transit stations to promote transit ridership and reduce automobile use.

5. Bicycle Network and Storage (Credit): This credit promotes the provision of bicycle infrastructure such as bike lanes, paths, and secure bicycle storage facilities. It encourages projects to support and facilitate bicycle commuting and reduce barriers to cycling.

6. Access to Quality Transit (Credit): This credit focuses on projects that are located within a certain distance from transit stations or stops. It promotes the proximity of housing, jobs, and services to transit, making it easier for residents to access transportation options.

7. Walkable Streets (Credit): This credit encourages the design of streets that prioritize pedestrians, creating a safe and inviting environment for walking. It emphasizes features such as wide sidewalks, shade trees, pedestrian-scale lighting, and amenities along the streetscape.

Projects pursuing LEED-ND certification must meet the prerequisites and earn a minimum number of points across all categories to achieve certification. The LEED-ND Location category, along with other categories like Smart Location and Linkage, Neighborhood Pattern and Design, and Green Infrastructure and Buildings, contributes to a holistic assessment of neighborhood sustainability and livability.

By incorporating sustainable location and transportation strategies, LEED-ND aims to create vibrant, connected, and environmentally responsible neighborhoods that enhance the quality of life for residents and minimize the impact on the surrounding environment.

Sensitive Land Protection (1 credit) The Sensitive Land Protection category includes prerequisites and credits that encourage responsible land use practices and the preservation of biodiversity.


1. Protection of Ecological Sites (Prerequisite): This prerequisite requires projects to identify and protect areas of high ecological value on the project site. It emphasizes the preservation of natural habitats, such as wetlands, endangered species habitats, or areas with significant ecological features. Projects must develop a plan for protecting these areas from construction impacts and ongoing operations.

2. Minimize Development Footprint (Credit): This credit rewards projects that minimize the extent of land development and disturbance. It encourages compact development and the preservation of open space. Projects can earn points by reducing the overall footprint of built structures and minimizing the impact on natural areas.

3. Restoration of Degraded Sites (Credit): This credit promotes the restoration of previously degraded or contaminated sites. It encourages the remediation and revitalization of brownfield sites or areas with degraded ecosystems. Projects can earn points by implementing restoration plans and improving the ecological health and functionality of the site.

4. Conservation of Agricultural Land (Credit): This credit focuses on the protection of agricultural land and the promotion of sustainable farming practices. It rewards projects that conserve farmland or support local food production through strategies such as community-supported agriculture programs or onsite food production.

5. Protection of Water Resources (Credit): This credit addresses the protection and conservation of water resources, such as rivers, streams, and water bodies. It encourages projects to implement measures that prevent erosion, control stormwater runoff, and protect water quality. Points can be earned by implementing best management practices for water resource protection.

6. Avoidance of Development on Priority Sites (Credit): This credit encourages the avoidance of development on priority sites, which include areas with high ecological value, prime farmland, or cultural or historic sites. It promotes responsible site selection and encourages projects to prioritize less-sensitive areas for development.

In our next sustainability blog series installment, we will explore what qualifies as a sustainable site. Whether you are looking to pursue LEED certification or just want to apply sustainability features to your facility, we have the expertise you need to make the most of these energy-saving initiatives.


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