Setting the Standard: A Practical Discussion for Developers Considering LEED-ND - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Setting the Standard: A Practical Discussion for Developers Considering LEED-ND

MPC roundtable connects developers with LEED-ND experts from around the region to build further understanding of and support for a development rating system that encourages sustainable communities.

A group of 30 prominent development professionals, including developers, planners, architects, and city officials, joined MPC on Sept. 24 for “Setting the Standard: A Practical Discussion for Developers Considering LEED-ND.”  This event connected developers and real estate professionals with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) experts from around the region to build a deeper understanding of and support for the LEED-ND development rating system. 

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) is a nationally recognized certification program that promotes a whole-community approach to sustainable development. The program, which is still in its approval phase, encompasses surrounding buildings and neighborhoods, aiming for not only green buildings, but green, sustainable neighborhoods, through increased walkability and reduced automobile dependence. LEED-ND projects are certified in 41 different countries includingCanada, Brazil, Mexico and India.

At the Sept. 24 forum, Douglas Farr, Jonathon Furr, and other development presenters shared their experiences with LEED-ND, emphasizing its benefits and accessibility. The group of featured speakers included Mary Engwall, a planner for the City of Chicago and Mike Royse, President of One Main Development, LLC, as well as representatives from the U.S. Green Building Council and the National Association of Home Builders. The group engaged in lively discussion, asking pertinent questions about the program and its implications. Attendees unanimously agreed that the forum was informative and, as a result, 89 percent expressed interest in developing future LEED-ND projects.

Building “green” has substantial benefits for both homeowners and developers. Homeowners in LEED-certified homes see an average 40 percent savings in energy costs over comparable non-certified homes. LEED-ND incorporates energy-efficient housing into sustainable neighborhoods by encouraging access to mass transit and shorter commutes.   

Because of the many community benefits, municipalities frequently create special programs to encourage environmentally friendly developments. Because LEED-ND is still in its approval phase, these municipal programs currently focus on LEED projects. For example, fees can be waived and waiting periods for LEED certified projects can be expedited much quicker than regular proposals. The City of Chicago is the only city in the U.S. that can guarantee reduced wait times and waived fees up to $25,000 for certified developments. Because of these efforts, Chicago leads the nation in the number of LEED-registered projects.

LEED-ND takes green development a step beyond LEED by encouraging cooperation between developers and communities to build more sustainable, energy-efficient neighborhoods. LEED-ND’s rating systems are developed through a consensus-based process led by LEED Committees = voluntary organizations of practitioners and experts in the building and construction industries.

To comment on future drafts or become a LEED Committee member, email a request to Additional information is available on the U.S. Green Building Council’s website at

For more information on MPC’s LEED-ND event, please contact Karin Sommer at or (312) 863-6044.

Sponsorship generously provided by the Prince Charitable Trusts, in partnership with the Illinois Association of Realtors.

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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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