Development of Educational and Professional Training Modules on Green/Sustainability Design and Rating Systems for Neighborhood Development and Transportation

PI: Robert W. Peters, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham
Co-PIs: Virginia Sisiopiku, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham; Adjo Amekudzi, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology

UTC Project Information

Several green rating tools have been developed for transportation and related systems, not dissimilar to ongoing efforts in the building and community development fields. For example, the New York State Department of Transportation developed the GreenLITES (Green Leadership in Transportation and Environmental Sustainability) design program in 2008, based on LEED. GreenLITES evaluates several aspects of environmental performance, including water and air quality protection, light pollution, stormwater runoff, energy consumption, conformity to natural landscape features, and the disruption of fish or wildlife habitats, and ranks competing projects based on the extent to which they are incorporating sustainability features and protecting the environment. GreenLITES integrates planning and programming decision making to promote a more balanced approach to transportation decision making. Similar tools include Green Roads (Washington State DOT), and STAR (Oregon). ASCE recently unveiled the Envision Tool, which is a sustainability rating tool for various types of infrastructure including transportation and land use.

The LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system is a methodology that can be used to evaluate livability and sustainability of developments.  LEED-ND is the result of a partnership between the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). Conceived in 2002, the rating system integrates principles of smart growth, New Urbanism, and green building infrastructure into the first national standard for green neighborhood development. LEED-ND evaluates not just buildings, but the location of those buildings, the way they relate to each other, and qualities of the public realm that knit them together. Guidelines for methodology implementation became available in 2009. However, widespread use of the methodology lags behind due the lack of systematic training of potential users.

This project will develop educational resources providing introductory training on LEED-ND methodology and other green design for students and practitioners. This training will provide an overview and understanding of principals behind LEED-ND evaluation and specific terminology, content and use of the LEED-ND methodology. It will distill principles underlying green rating tools for transportation, the commonalities and differences among the tools, their strengths and weaknesses, and guidance on which tools are more appropriate for various functions. Three modules will be developed focusing on: Smart Location and Linkage (SLL), Neighborhood Pattern and Design (NPD), and Green Infrastructure and Buildings (GIB). The SLL model will review smart location selection, site design for conservation, brownfields redevelopment options, and flood avoidance of multimodal transportation choices in site development. The NPD module will explore issues related to walkability, compact development, mixed-use development options, and designs promoting accessibility for all (walking and biking). The GIB module will focus on elements of certified green buildings, building energy and water efficiency, and storm water, wastewater and solid waste management infrastructure. The modules will discuss prerequisites and credits which reward designs and practices promoting sustainability and livability objectives.

The project is expected to open new avenues for information dissemination on sustainable community design options to transportation professionals, students, researchers and the general public.