Ward Village Is The Country’s Largest Platinum LEED Certified Neighborhood Development

Ward Village is a LEED ‘For Neighborhood Development’ (LEED-ND) Platinum Certified Project. In fact, the expansive Howard Hughes projects that’s been in development across Honolulu’s coastline, tucked conveniently between the downtown core and Waikiki, is the largest LEED-ND Platinum Certified community in the country.

We wanted to drill down and find out what a LEED Platinum certification for neighborhood development means and how that might benefit Honolulu residents – both those that live in Ward Village and outside of it. To find out, we did a little research into what goes into LEED certification, and in particular, the platinum designation when it’s applied to neighborhood development.

A rendering of Waiea at Ward Village, the country’s largest Platinum LEED certified neighborhood development.

Some of you may already be familiar with LEED certification as it’s applied to green buildings or green construction. First of all, LEED is the most widely used green building certification in the world and it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED can be applied to both new construction and to existing buildings. According to the USGBC’s website:

LEED provides a framework that project teams can apply to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings. LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability achievement.


For a little more background on the basics of LEED certification, check out our recent post here.

What Is LEED ‘For Neighborhood Development’?

LEED rating systems are in place for every kind of building, including residential, commercial, and institutional. LEED certifications can apply to every kind of structure, from single-family homes to corporate headquarters and hospitals, for example.

LEED applies its rating systems to four categories:

  1. LEED for Building Design+Construction
  2. LEED for Interior Design+Construction
  3. LEED for Building Operations+Maintenance
  4. LEED for Neighborhood Development

Broadly, LEED-ND certification provides independent, third-party verification that a neighborhood development project meets the highest green building and performance measures. Specifically, it looks at a number of prerequisites for inclusion, as well as a menu of points a neighborhood can earn.

Some examples of prerequisites for a neighborhood development LEED certification include site choice. The neighborhood must be close to existing communities and in close proximity to existing public transit so that residents can easily travel from the neighborhood. From an environmental perspective, the site choice is examined with an eye on floodplain avoidance, conservation of endangered or at-risk species, conservation of wetlands, to name but a few considerations.

What Does LEED ‘For Neighborhood Development’ Platinum Certified Mean?

LEED Platinum Certification for Neighborhood Development is the highest level of certification. LEED certification has four levels: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.  This means that Ward Village had to achieve the highest level of points in order to gain the LEED-ND Platinum Certified designation. Naturally, this certification looks issues like energy and water use, green building, wastewater management, indoor and outdoor air quality – but it also considers so much more.

Additional points can be earned toward a LEED-ND certification if the locale is within a quarter mile of an existing bicycle network and the builder provides bicycle storage facilities on site; thus reducing vehicle travel and encouraging greener modes of transportation. If the neighborhood is close to job sources, even better. Points are also granted if the site is chosen with a view to conserving native plants, wildlife habitat, wetlands, and nearby bodies of water.

The point system is complex and is an almost endless list of provisos for which a neighborhood can be granted additional points. Apart from the environmental concerns, the neighborhood development designation also looks at lifestyle benefits. Walkable streets, compact design, and affordability for mixed-income families are also pluses. Access to public spaces and recreation areas, a reduced parking footprint, community outreach and involvement, tree-lined and shaded streets, and proximity to neighborhood schools are just a few of the other ways Ward Village was able to earn this prestigious certification.

For a complete list of Ward Village’s ratings earned to achieve the coveted LEED-ND Platinum Certification, please click here.

What Does This Mean For Honolulu Residents?

For residents of Ward Village, this means healthier living, with better air quality, lowered C02 levels and a connected, master-planned community.  Master-planned Ward Village and other neighborhood developments of its kind are self-sustaining – with jobs, transportation, shopping, recreation, and dining – all close at hand.  Built-in infrastructure is designed to engage residents to walk and ride their bikes, or easily access public transportation to get to work, shopping, dining, and more.

Building green helps our pristine green spaces stay that way.

For residents of Ward Village and surrounding neighborhoods, life is less about traffic and commuting and more about getting outdoors and meeting their neighbors in the public and green spaces in their community. Convenient to Ala Moana Beach Park and the harbor at Kewalo Basin, there are so many outdoor activities and local gems to explore!

For the rest of O‘ahu residents, our air quality will also be better. By building efficiently, Ward Village has reduced air pollution, wastewater issues, energy usage, to name a few benefits. But since residents won’t have to travel far, it means there will be less traffic and fewer cars on the road. That translates into reduced CO2 emissions from vehicles and reduced use of fossils fuels for our planet. Another benefit is that master-planned, sustainably built neighborhoods like Ward Village provide more affordable housing than other conventionally built housing projects.

While it may seem that the proliferation of new construction is changing the face of the city, the development has breathed new life into an aging part of the city once dotted with warehouses. New businesses have popped up – including a thriving dining and nightlife scene – to answer to this concentrated population of residents looking for ways to spend their time and money. All of those new businesses employ local residents. By building up instead of outwards, master-planned communities like Ward Village help to prevent urban sprawl and preserve the ever-shrinking green spaces throughout the rest of the island. Whether you live in Ward Village or not, preserving the green beauty of O‘ahu – the Gathering Place – is no doubt a priority for all who have the good fortune to call this island their home.

Read our recent post to learn more about some of the many benefits that people can reap from green, sustainable construction practices.

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