Union Park is Nevada's only Project in LEED for Neighborhood Development Pilot Program

December 5, 2007
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Las Vegas, NV, November 13, 2007 – Union Park, a $6 billion, 11-million-square-foot, mixed-use project under development in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on land owned by the City of Las Vegas, is the only project in the state of Nevada to be accepted into the LEED for Neighborhood Development national pilot program. The program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is creating a rating system that integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into the first national rating system for neighborhood design. The program is a collaboration between the U.S. Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU), and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

“We are pleased to be a part of the LEED for Neighborhood Development pilot program, particularly as the only Las Vegas project announced to date,” said Scott Adams, director of the Office of Business Development for the City of Las Vegas. “Union Park is a development whose time has come in Las Vegas,” he said. “It is playing a central role in the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas and by embracing environmentally sound development practices, is forging new ground for ‘green’ neighborhood development in our valley.

According to Rita Brandin, senior vice president and development director for Newland Communities, the national real estate development firm retained by the City of Las Vegas to act as development manager for Union Park, the 11-million-square-foot,mixed-use project is creating an in-town culture, entertainment, working and living environment on currently unused railroad lands. “Not only will Union Park embrace environmentally sensitive development practices going forward, it embodies the very essence of land recycling by transforming a fallow brownfield site into a vibrant community.”

The LEED for Neighborhood Development rating system evaluates communities on criteria related to smart location and linkage to the community at large; neighborhood pattern and design; green construction and technology; and water and energy conservation. It is a tool to help planners and developers create communities that not only protect the environment, but also address important public health issues such as physical activity, traffic accidents, respiratory illnesses, and affordable housing. The LEED certification process includes independent, third-party verification that a development's design, construction and performance meet accepted high standards for environmentally responsible, sustainable, development.

The pilot program is expected to conclude in 2008. Based on feedback gathered during the pilot, the rating system will be revised to improve its effectiveness and applicability to the marketplace. The revised rating system will then be balloted according to USGBC's consensus process and undergo approval by CNU and NRDC. In a separate announcement in Chicago on November 8 at Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, USGBC announced it has launched a new Web site that will give homeowners, homebuyers, renters, landlords and others the tools they need to ensure their homes are as healthy and environmentally friendly as possible. The website was created with generous support from Newland Communities.

The Green Home Guide details the ways green homes can benefit health, the environment and homeowners’ personal finances. Green homes use, on average, 40% less energy and 50% less water than conventional homes, cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions, protecting our precious water resources, and saving families money every month in utility bills. Green homes also make use of safe materials, such as paints and cleaning products that don’t emit harmful chemicals into the air our families breathe. They are built with a focus on carefully selected materials - materials that are recycled, locally produced and created from sustainably grown, renewable resources.

“Our alliance with USGBC is a perfect fit for us,” said LaDonna Monsees, president and chief executive officer, Newland Communities. “We are attempting to incorporate sustainability into everything we do and educating consumers is a top priority. If consumers are educated and have access to all of the information they need, they will be able to make smart, healthy and sustainable decisions.”

“As Americans learn more about the importance of their actions on the health of their families and future generations, living a greener life becomes more vital,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair, U.S. Green Building Council. “Where better to start than in the home?”

About Union Park

Union Park is a 61-acre mixed-use master-planned urban center located in the heart of downtown Las Vegas on land owned by the City of Las Vegas. Situated just east of I-15, Union Park is bounded on the east by the historic Union Park rail yards. Newland Communities, a privately owned company that creates residential and urban mixed-use communities with nearly 40 communities underway in 14 states, was retained in 2005 by the City of Las Vegas as development manager to oversee day-to-day development of Union Park.

Considered the single most important element of the revitalization of downtown Las Vegas, Union Park is anchored by two key public facilities: the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute designed by famed architect, Frank Gehry; and The Smith Center for the Performing Arts, designed by architect David M. Schwarz. Other planned projects include The Charlie Palmer Hotel – a 400-room boutique hotel and condominium; the World Jewelry Center – a 1-million-square-foot exhibition tower for the international and domestic jewelry industry; and a medical office and hotel campus adjacent to the Lou Ruvo Brain Institute. Planned to encompass more than 11 million square feet of office, medical, residential, retail, civic and hotel/hospitality space, Union Park has a value of more than $6 billion and a build-out of approximately 11 years (2018).

About LEED

The LEED® Green Building Rating System is a voluntary third party rating system where credits are earned for satisfying specified green building criteria. Projects are evaluated within six environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, and Indoor Environmental Quality. Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total credits earned. The LEED standard has been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies as the industry standard of measurement for green building.

About the U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non-profit composed of leaders from every sector of the building industry; including corporations, builders, universities, government agencies, and non-profit organizations; working together to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated. Green buildings are environmentally responsible, profitable and healthy places to live and work.

Since its founding in 1993, the Council has grown to more than 10,000 member companies and organizations, a 90-person professional staff, a broad portfolio of LEED® green building products and services, and produces the industry's popular Greenbuild International Conference and Expo (www.greenbuildexpo.org). The USGBC’s network of over 75 local chapters, affiliates and organizing groups are united to advance their mission of transforming the building industry to sustainability.

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