The. US. Green Building council's new rating system, LEED for Neighborhood Development, which integrates the principles of smart growth, New Urbanism, and green building for neighborhood design, has been around for less than two years, but it is already gaining momentum.

The Green Building Certification Institute recently launched a new LEED Professional Credential - LEED AP for Neighborhood Development - for professionals participating in the planning and development of environmentally responsible communities. The exam measures knowledge of the LEED for Neighborhood Development Rating System and the ability to facilitate the LEED project certification process.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also jumped on the sustainable community bandwagon by using the rating system to score "location efficiency" of grant applications, meaning projects need to demonstrate greater accessibility to surrounding jobs, commercial areas, and transportation options. "It's time that federal dollars stopped encouraging sprawl and started lowering the barriers to any kind of sustainable development our country needs and our communities want," says HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan.

Meanwhile, the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES), which was mentioned in PUBLIC WORK's January 2009 Industry Forecast, is on its way to becoming the nation's first rating system for sustainable landscapes. A two-year pilot program, which included more than 150 projects from around the world, concluded in June. Feedback will be used to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013. The U.S. Green Building Council, a stakeholder in the initiative, plans to incorporate the guidelines and performance benchmarks into future LEED rating systems.