Green Neighborhood Award Act unanimously approved by both houses of Illinois General Assembly - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Green Neighborhood Award Act unanimously approved by both houses of Illinois General Assembly

Illinois to become first state to offer an incentive for sustainably designed LEED–Neighborhood Development communities

(Springfield, Ill.) … A new bill known as the Green Neighborhood Award Act (SB 135), which would make Illinois a national leader in sustainable neighborhood development, has been approved unanimously by both chambers of the Illinois General Assembly.

“The Green Neighborhood Award Act is a low-cost, common-sense proposal for supporting sustainably designed neighborhoods, which are known to reduce energy consumption, encourage strong local economies, improve public health, and save communities and consumers money,” said Rep. Careen M. Gordon (D-Coal City), who was the bill’s chief sponsor in the House and who chairs the new Smart Growth and Regional Planning Committee. “It’s hard to argue with a bill that can achieve all of this without imposing additional land regulations on the private market.”

The Green Neighborhood Award Act provides incentives for development projects in Illinois that are consistent with LEED-ND standards of the U.S. Green Building Council, Congress for the New Urbanism, and Natural Resources Defense Council . Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) is an extension of LEED certification, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings. LEED-ND certification guarantees neighborhoods adhere to core principles of sensible growth, from promoting housing near jobs, services and transit, to improving access to open space.

“By providing developers of green neighborhoods with financial incentives, Illinois will be a national pacesetter in sustainable development,” said Randy Blankenhorn, executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning and co-chair of the Campaign for Sensible Growth , the bill’s primary civic supporter.

Just as LEED certification has increased the popularity and, thus, the property values of green buildings in the Chicago region and nationwide, LEED-ND certification is expected to spur the development of sustainably designed, energy-efficient neighborhoods. The U.S. Green Building Council’s pilot for LEED-ND development drew some 371 proposals from across the country, including 11 from Illinois – indicating sustainable community design is a burgeoning real estate trend.

The Green Neighborhood Award Act will:

  • Designate three LEED-ND certified developments in Illinois to be eligible for Green Neighborhood Award grants, issued by the Ill. Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
  • Help Illinois achieve energy independence, protect natural resources, and position Illinois as a national leader in sustainable development. LEED-ND-certified neighborhoods couldn’t come at a better time: they are designed to reduce car trips for residents and build more energy-efficient buildings. The legislation also offers a way for Illinois to adapt to climate change by supporting communities that promote more efficient energy and water use.
  • Save consumers money. Next to housing, transportation is the second largest household expense. Energy costs are also high on the list and rising. A family living in a LEED-ND certified neighborhood stands to cut annual costs by $3,148, due to energy savings and reduced car trips. If the Green Neighborhood Award funds three LEED-ND pilot developments resulting in 300 new Illinois households, more than $944,400 could be redirected annually into the state’s economy through consumer spending from energy and vehicle savings alone.
  • Support economic development. Developers benefit from building “green” neighborhoods and would receive state incentives. LEED-certified buildings have increased their market values by up to $0.80 per square foot; it follows that neighborhoods that are LEED-ND-certified, with LEED-certified buildings at their foundation, also will boast above-average market values.

“Nationwide and in Illinois, the market is struggling to catch up with a booming consumer demand for neighborhoods with a variety of housing types, access to public transportation, and streets that serve pedestrians and bicyclists to reduce car trips,” said MarySue Barrett, president of the Metropolitan Planning Council and co-chair of the Campaign for Sensible Growth. “ Illinois could become one of only a handful of states helping provide consumers with greater options by encouraging the market to respond to the demand for sensible growth.”

For more information about the Green Neighborhood Award Act, visit the Campaign for Sensible Growth Web site, or contact Michael Davidson, manager of the Campaign for Sensible Growth, at 312-863-6009 or; or Mandy Burrell, Metropolitan Planning Council communications associate, at 312-863-6018 or


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