LEED AP ND Right for You?Let’s explore the LEED AP ND credential. The LEED green building certification program is made up of five rating systems, and there are five specialty AP credentials available for individual professionals to pursue. ND is the short name for Neighborhood Development. This rating system and complimentary credential are very different from all the other LEED programs because they cover a larger scale of the built environment.  LEED Neighborhood Development was created to address the walkability and self-sufficiency of ‘new urbanist’ development. This means one project will include several buildings, circulation networks, and integration with the surrounding communities and amenities. Therefore, the LEED AP ND professional credential is best fit for developers, planners, transportation designers, architects, and local government officials.

Smart Location and Linkage

The rating system begins with a category called Smart Location and Linkage. It deals with issues like proximity to housing and jobs. These are issues that every city council person and mayor should be interested in, and they may take active roles to educate themselves. Would you be more likely to vote for a council person who has a LEED AP ND credential? Individuals who represent the city in infrastructure, zoning, development, planning, transportation, and even financing will be interested to learn about LEED for Neighborhood Development. The rating system supports and integrates with eco-districts and can help inform incentives and even influence city code.

Neighborhood Pattern and Design

The next category, Neighborhood Pattern and Design, requires detail calculations for intersections and street frontages. This is the work of a city planner or urban designer. In addition to a master’s degree, a LEED credential adds value to your resume. Graduate students in these fields are often the biggest trend setters and are proving to be the largest adopters of this LEED credential.

Another accounting task in this category is street trees. No one is better suited for this task than the landscape architect who specializes in LEED Neighborhood Development. LEED AP ND is very popular among landscape architects. However, choosing the LEED AP ND path depends on your career arc.

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LEED ND is a new urbanist style of development and can be implemented on a few acres or hundreds of acres; the maximum project size is 1500 acres. The projects are often branded as town centers or neighborhoods within a broader metro association. In addition to walkability, the projects also reward bike-ability. Professionals who dedicate their careers to transportation solutions will be interested to sit for the LEED AP ND exam because it celebrates their work.

Green Infrastructure and Building

The third and final category, Green Infrastructure and Building, highlights the efficiency of district heating and cooling systems. Engineers and contractors whom design or install sophisticated systems like these can benefit from the LEED AP ND credential because it will help them tailor the system to better integrate with the entire project. This category also has a lot of overlap, as well as above and beyond criteria in the new construction rating system. For this reason, a lot of Architects are drawn to the LEED AP ND credential. They will be responsible for documenting solar orientation and heat island reduction.

Is it hard to choose just one LEED AP? It’s okay to double up on credentials. A lot of Architects will earn and maintain both the LEED AP BD+C as well as LEED AP ND. Multiple credentials do require a few extra continuing education hours per specialty, but if you are engaged in real LEED projects, involved in your local USGBC chapter, or a GBES.com customer, you will have no difficulty getting those continuing education hours.

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