TRANSPORTATION AND CITY PLANNING – Urban planning decisions have a tremendous impact on a child’s opportunity for contact with the natural world, determining whether a park is located within walking distance from home, whether a stream is left as a wildlife corridor or pushed underground in a culvert, and whether it is possible to walk or bike safely to school and neighborhood destinations. These strategies would improve access to the natural world:
Strategy #3: Create incentives for property developments meeting the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards, which incorporate protection of green space and wildlife habitat, and promotion of physical activity.
The U. S. Green Building Council has developed the LEED for Neighborhood Development standards in order to encourage healthier neighborhoods – healthier for the environment and healthier for people. In order to encourage these kinds of developments, many municipalities will allow tax abatements for projects meeting the LEED standards. For example, the City of Cincinnati adopted a measure providing an automatic 100% real property tax exemption of the assessed property value for newly constructed or rehabilitated commercial or residential properties that earn a minimum of LEED Certified.
Members of Ohio’s regional U. S. Green Building Council are currently reviewing the standards for LEED-ND and LEED for Schools, discussing ways to increase green space and children’s access to it in the urban environment. Examples of items under discussion are school gardens and natural play spaces, including the possible use of vegetative roofs for those purposes. As our population grows and Ohio becomes more urban, it is essential to take into consideration the needs of our children so they will have safe natural places in which to play and learn. USGBC members are also continuing to build relationships with cities and counties, educating them on LEED-ND and the types of incentives being implemented across the country, like fast track permitting and permitting fee reimbursement.