LEED-ND: the future of urbanism in Asia

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Urbanisation, an increasing fad happening across the globe, surely requires more buildings, and this consumes about 40 per cent of the world’s energy. Cities in particular, account for as much as 76 per cent of the world’s energy consumption. Rapid urbanism has urged designers, developers, and urban planners to come up with solutions to  address the current challenges – especially in emerging markets such as Asia. Developing a sustainable ecosystem will no longer be focused on energy efficiency and renewable resources, but also elevating the quality of life for the local community.

 The USGBC (United States Green Building Council) established a collaborative program with Congress For The New Urbanism, called “LEED for a Neighborhood Development” – a rating system to help planners and developers create communities that not only protect the environment, but also improve the quality of life for the whole community. It aims to provide guidance and acknowledgement to the buildings that provide quality of life while protecting the natural environment.

Cited as one of the highlighted topic in the WorldGBC Congress 2015 last October, Chris Pyke, PH.D, Chief Operating Officer of GRESB explained that LEED-ND certification focuses on three core aspects;  smart growth, new urbanism, and the development of green buildings in the area. With these aspects in mind, LEED-ND certification can create healthier communities, cleaner environment, and provide a bigger impact on a stronger community.

As the LEED-ND is designed for individual development projects, it should not become a replacement for city comprehensive planning and is not designed to rate zoning codes, existing neighborhoods, an entire town, county or city.

LEED-ND is taking off in Asia

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Asia contains the most LEED projects outside of North America and is becoming the strongest continent for green buildings development in the world. This shows just how LEED-certified buildings have been increasingly gaining importance in Asia’s green building and construction industry.

To make a point, the new Songdo City International Business District (IBD)  located in Incheon, Southwest of Seoul, Korea, is one of the only three LEED-ND projects in Asia and the first national standard for neighborhood design. Developed by New York’s Gale International, Songdo City IBD has been accepted as a pilot project and partner by the USGBC for its LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) certification. The project is estimated to house 65,000 citizens and employ 300,000 people.

Rick Fedrizzi, President, CEO & Founding Chair of USGBC commented that the LEED-ND program goes beyond individual green buildings and focuses more on community-wide design and development. The Songdo City IBD may be the pioneer to lead the way for the development of smarter and healthier communities in Asia.

The other two LEED-ND projects in Asia include Japan and China. The redevelopment project of Tokyo’s Futako-Tamagawa area, Japan, showcases the country’s innovation by having its first LEED-ND project. This 20-hectare site has created 400,000 square meters of homes, shops, offices, and leisure facilities. Futako-Tamagawa Rise was developed by London-based architecture firm Conran & Partners with Woonerf Inc. Hiroki Hiramatsu, the founder and CEO of Woonerf Inc, stated that these Japan LEED-ND projects aims to be a new standard in creating compact cities.

In China, Shanghai Expo Urban Best Practice Area (UBPA) is the first LEED-ND-certified Platinum project outside of North America. The site emulates a sustainable and pedestrian-oriented community by integrating smart growth, urbanism and green building practices. Designed by Arup, the building integrates the multidisciplinary skills in energy strategy, water engineering, microclimate and waste water management. Michael Kwok, the Director and Leader of Arup Shanghai, mentioned that the LEED-ND international recognition the building has make it a globally well-known eco-friendly cultural development, setting it as a new benchmark for sustainable redevelopment across China.

With the LEED-ND certification and many other green rating systems currently existing and continuously developing, Asia could prove to be the next big trend of green development aiming to meet international standards – and eventually exceed it.

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