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Prediction of Transportation Outcomes for LEED-ND Pilot Projects

Reid Ewing, Colin Quinn-Hurst, Lauren Brown, Meghan Bogaerts, Michael Greenwald, Ming Zhang, and Lawrence Frank

May 2011, English

In this paper, Reid Ewing, Colin Quinn-Hurst, Lauren Brown, Meghan Bogaerts, Michael Greenwald, Ming Zhang, and Lawrence Frank examine how the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)—Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) program affects transit use. Based on a model that they developed in another study, the authors estimated the potential reduction in Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) and the energy and CO2 savings of 12 LEED-ND certified projects. They calculated the shares of trips by walking and transit and the length of trips by automobile.

Purposes of these trips were also taken into consideration. The estimated VMT per trip for the selected LEED-ND pilot projects is 28–70 percent of the regional average. The estimated walking share is between 3 and 19.7 percent of trips, and the estimated transit share is between 2.8 and 12.3 percent of trips. All these predictions compare favorably with the regional averages. Weighted-average private vehicle trip lengths are between 3.6 and 5.7 miles; this range is shorter than the regional average. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that the projected environmental impacts of the LEED-ND pilots based on automobile use and CO2 emissions will be smaller than those of non-LEED-ND developments.

The green building certification system “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design” (LEED) developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) has become a global phenomenon. The USGBC’s mission is a sweeping one: “to transform the way buildings and communities are designed, built, and operated, enabling an environmentally and socially responsible, healthy, and prosperous environment that improves the quality of life.” There is no question that LEED has been a success in the marketplace. Since LEED was launched in 2000 as a single rating system for new construction, it has expanded to encompass more than 65,000 projects in all 50 states and in 106 countries. There are now eight rating systems covering various types of development, from commercial interiors to homes to schools, with more systems to come.

This paper was presented at the Lincoln Institute’s Land Policy Conference of 2010 and is Chapter 9 of the book Climate Change and Land Policies.