Sustainable Communities = Healthy Communities

By Christy Cunningham-Saylor of Vertegy,
An Alberici Enterprise
and USGBC-Missouri Gateway Board of Directors

The USGBC-Missouri Gateway Chapter’s mission is to transform the built environment and often when discussing green projects, we talk in singular examples such as an office building, a school or maybe a campus going green. But if we’re truly going to transform the built environment, we should consider a grander scale when we think of projects – whole developments, neighborhoods and regions.

St. Louis has diversity when it comes to neighborhoods -79 distinct neighborhoods in the City alone and many, many more throughout the region. Some of these are bustling, thriving communities; some are recently on the rebound and others are struggling with economic and other challenges. You may have heard someone comment on an area “that once used to be the place to go shopping when I was a kid” and wonder what has changed. Looking beyond the conventional neighborhood and subdivisions of today, what should new and renewed communities include? How can connections between residents, services, jobs, schools and transportation options be incorporated? And how do we reduce dependency on personal vehicles?

Reducing personal vehicle usage is beneficial in a couple of different ways – less pollution is emitted by eliminating or reducing driving or by increasing use of public transportation. Besides, walking or biking are much healthier modes of transportation, which then impact common health issues in today’s population such as obesity and diabetes. Alternative modes of transportation often increase common, random interactions with our fellow St. Louisans, resulting in more neighborhood interaction and linkages. Other design elements which contribute to this idea are community spaces that are accessible to all, allowing for all age groups to intermingle.

LEED for Neighborhood Development is the first national standard for neighborhood design. It encourages neighborhood development projects that protect and enhance the overall health, natural environment and quality of life of communities. Additionally, LEED for Neighborhood Development promotes the location and design of neighborhoods that reduce auto dependency by providing jobs and services that are accessible by foot, bicycle, or public transit.
Doug Farr with Farr and Associates has long been an advocate of smart growth and new urbanism in addition to promoting the benefits of smart community design and green buildings. Doug was integral to the development of the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System. He will be in St. Louis on Tuesday, May 8th to speak about sustainable communities and LEED for Neighborhood Development – not once but twice!

LEED for Neighborhood Development in an Urban Context (in conjunction with the City of St. Louis Mayor’s Sustainability Summit II) will be held from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. This in-depth session will focus on the details and core concepts of the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System.

If you’re interested in what is happening in our region related to sustainable community development, join us on the evening of May 8th from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for the Chapter’s regularly scheduled monthly program. Doug will present a case study of a local LEED for Neighborhood Development project in East St. Louis.

For more information about both events or to register, visit the Chapter’s website at www.usgbc-mogateawy.org.