Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Earth Advantage Institute Launches Certification Pilot for Vibrant, Livable Eco Neighborhoods

Below is an email press release on something quite interesting, an eco or sustainability measure for neighborhoods that is not associated with LEED (Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design) or LEED-ND (Neighborhood Development), the system devised and managed by the US Green Building Council. The problem with LEED is that it is focused on new construction and inadequately measures sustainability factors for already existing places.

PORTLAND, Ore., September 27, 2011 -- Earth Advantage Institute, a nonprofit green building resource that has certified more than 11,000 homes nationally, invites Expressions of Interest (EOI) to participate in an innovative Eco Neighborhoods pilot program that will rate and certify the livability and accomplishments of existing neighborhoods. The request for EOIs is intended to determine whether there is sufficient market interest in such a certification program. EOIs will be accepted until November 30, 2011.

Eco Neighborhoods Concept
Neighborhoods are critical elements of community vitality and prosperity, and essential contributors to social, economic, and environmental well-being. A wide variety of neighborhoods across the country are working to create exceptionally livable residential and commercial districts, including:

- Residential neighborhoods
- Public housing projects
- Business districts
- Office and industrial parks
- Shopping centers
- Resorts
- Education and medical campuses
- Military housing areas

Certifying the accomplishments of these existing neighborhoods can strengthen local participation, reinforce values, and improve outcomes. To achieve these results, the Eco Neighborhoods concept is distinguished in two respects. First, it will focus on existing, fully developed neighborhoods that are at least five years old and have a demonstrated record of accomplishments. Second, the program’s rating and certification will be grounded in the principles of sustainability, but, importantly, will “go beyond green” to encompass a broader set of social, economic, and cultural accomplishments.

For example, Eco Neighborhoods may have deployed some of the following measures:

Natural Capital
Land – open space protection; erosion prevention
Air – boiler pollution emission retrofits; truck idling reductions
Water – wetlands restoration; onsite stormwater treatment
Climate – electric vehicle-sharing; heat island reduction

Built Capital
Businesses – incubator start-up facility; mentoring program
Transportation- pedestrian/bicycle facility investments; transit service expansion
Energy – onsite renewable power generation; building efficiency retrofits
Wastes - central composting stations; hazardous waste collection

Social Capital
Governance – exemplary inclusion/participation in civic organizations
Social services – tool-sharing program; emergency preparedness training
Cultural institutions – social/commemorative events; historic/cultural exhibitions
Equity – first-time homebuyer assistance; nutrition information access

Human Capital
Health – low-allergen landscaping; seniors active living program
Education – adult literacy program; youth internships
Employment – job training program; local hiring preferences
Recreation – youth athletic league; park improvements

For purposes of this request, “existing neighborhoods” are buildings or groups of buildings that have been constructed and occupied for at least five years, including, but not limited to, residential areas, condominiums, public housing projects, business districts, office/industrial parks, shopping centers, resorts, institutional campuses, and military housing areas. There is no minimum or maximum number of buildings or acres required for an existing neighborhood.

Who May be Interested
Earth Advantage encourages a broad range of organizations to submit EOIs. Potential responders may include, but are not limited to, neighborhood and homeowner associations; public housing tenant associations; business improvement districts and transportation management organizations; community development corporations; and owners/managers of resorts, shopping centers, office/industrial parks, institutional campuses, and military installation housing areas.

To Obtain the Request for EOIs

Earth Advantage Institute
Earth Advantage Institute is a national nonprofit organization that works with the building industry to implement sustainable building practices. Its mission is to advance green building science and create an immediate, practical and cost-effective path to sustainability and reduction of carbon in the built environment. The organization achieves its objectives through an innovative range of programs for certification of high performance homes, remodels, sustainable communities, and commercial spaces. More information is available at

For more information contact:

Tom Breunig
Earth Advantage Institute
(503) 968-7160

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