The development of sustainable neighborhoods and subdivisions is an important step in the creation of a truly sustainable future. Rethinking neighborhood planning has the potential to decrease the immediate and future ecological impact of development and set the stage for new patterns of living that decrease the impact of residents. In addition, city form has a dramatic impact on affordability. The creation of compact walkable developments with essential services within walking distance decreases the reliance on cars. Neighborhoods built on sustainable principles extend sustainability from the individual home to the community.
There are several new and existing programs related to neighborhood scale development that can be used as tools, whether or not funding or certification by these programs is sought.
Minnesota GreenStep Cities
Minnesota GreenStep Cities is a challenge, assistance, and recognition program to help cities achieve their sustainability goals through implementation of 28 best practices. A program of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, it has the flexibility to be useful to all Minnesota cities. Best practice topic areas include: Building and Lighting, Land Use, Transportation, Environmental Management, and Economic and Community Development.
Green Communities Criteria
The Green Communities Criteria address many of the issues related to the development of sustainable neighborhood planning in the Location and Neighborhood Fabric section of the criteria. These criteria will assist planners and developers with goal setting. It will be particularly helpful for site selection and setting density targets for infill projects
Green Communities: Multifamily - Location and Neighborhood Fabric
Green Communities: Single Family - Location and Neighborhood Fabric
LEED for Neighborhood Development
The US Green Building Council's LEED for Neighborhood Development integrates the principles of smart growth,
urbanism, and green building into the first national system for
neighborhood design. The program began accepting applications in April
2009. It requires third-party verification that a development's location
and design meet the standard. LEED for Neighborhood Development is a
collaboration of the USGBC, Congress for the New Urbanism, and the
Natural Resources Defense Council.
Building Better Neighborhoods
The Greater Minnesota Housing Fund's (GMHF) Building Better Neighborhoods (BBN) program is an
excellent resource for new neighborhood development. BBN addresses the
primary issues of affordability, livability, and land conservation in a
thoughtful and informative manner. BBN offers information on all aspects
of the project, from site selection and streets to home plans and