Learning to build green is becoming a necessity, not an option.
By K.K. Snyder
While many developers and builders may have some interest in building green, lack of experience and knowledge about sustainable development as well as the lack of a uniform rating system often pose more of a challenge than most are willing to overcome. Eventually, building green will become more of a necessity than an option, especially in Miami, where land resources are at a prime.
One Miami design firm is taking the lead toward sustainable solutions, having recently had a project accepted into the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program. Jonathan Cardello, AIA, senior associate and director of the Miami office of ADD Inc., sought acceptance into the program for 321 North, a $350 million redevelopment of the Plantation Fashion Mall in Plantation, Fla., to a vibrant mixed-use destination.
“We wanted to create much more than a traditional shopping center,” says Cardello. “Our objective has been to design a product that is distinctive and purposeful, breathing new life into the area and fostering a more vibrant neighborhood that is active 18 hours a day, seven days a week. Plantation Avenue will be the new focal point.”
A project of private equity investor U.S. Capital Holdings Group, 321 North was one of 500 projects submitted and about 300 chosen for the pilot program. The goal of the program is to establish a brand new rating system for green development on a neighborhood level. Born from a collaboration of the U.S. Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism and Natural Resources Defense Counsel to evaluate developments in their entirety, the new LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program recognizes projects that incorporate smart growth, new urbanism and green design principles.
“The LEED for Neighborhood Development program is designed to go beyond the single green building approach and focus on design and development on a community-wide scale,” says Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Our pilot projects are pioneers, paving the way for the development of smarter and healthier communities.”
321 North will be among an elite group of projects involved in evaluating the standards set forth by the program’s rating system, which will be the first national rating system for neighborhood design. Only communities that protect and enhance the overall health, natural environment and quality of life by reducing vehicular traffic, promoting pedestrian foot and public transit activity and promoting efficient energy and water use were accepted into the program.
Among the green components of the 321 North project will be the monitoring of energy used during construction and the careful selection of building materials, which includes the purchase of readily available products made through a sustainable process. Among those green friendly building components are stucco and concrete, easy building cladding available in a variety of colors, often from a local source.
“We’ll also look at manufacturers with the ability to produce their product within a 500-mile range,” says Cardello, which saves resources used to transport the products.
In addition to green building features such as highly efficient mechanical and plumbing systems and energy-efficient glazing, paints and finishes that enhance indoor air quality, the developers are planning to incorporate greenways, links to public transportation, open spaces, an on-site filtration pond, and a heavily-vegetated parking structure that will help mitigate the heat of the sun. Landscaping, which includes making use of large canopy trees and native plants to shade pedestrian pathways, is also part of the green design.
ADD’s project will incorporate residential, office, shopping, dining and entertainment components and is an integral part of the City’s Master Plan to build an urban town center, Plantation Midtown. Crucial to the success of green development is the partnership with municipalities to bring a greater degree of awareness about what each partner can do toward energy efficiency.
In addition, Cardello believes that 321 North will be a shining example of how green, mixed-use and pedestrian friendly developments are becoming less of a trend and more an essential component of land planning in some states, especially where land resources are scarce.
As the industry becomes more familiar with the processes and regulations become more clearly defined, environmentally responsible design will become the norm, rather than the exception, to design and development across the country.
For more information on LEED for Neighborhood Development, visit Usgbc.org/leed/nd.