GreenTRIP rates projects by their transit links

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A new green rating system for residential developments promises to fill in the gaps other programs leave wide open.

The new program, GreenTRIP, rates how well a project encourages sustainable transportation options.

Most green certification programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rankings look at a building’s systems and materials while GreenTRIP focuses just on transportation.

“We provide a one-page scorecard that shows whether the developer is doing much more to ensure transportation for the life of a project,” said Ann Cheng, director of the program based in Oakland.

GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.

Projects receive points for having features such as bike racks, proximity to bike lanes and public transportation and for providing transit passes and car-sharing access to residents for 40 years. Other programs, such as LEED, reward points for projects that provide car sharing and transit passes for three years. The new program also rewards developers who require buyers or renters to pay separately for a parking spot instead of including it in the purchase price of the unit or the rent.

“There’s a real threat in that all these pseudo-transit-oriented development projects come in, but they have too much parking and they don’t offer any real incentive for residents to drive less,” Cheng said

So far, the program has rated five Bay Area projects and is seeking applications for its first major round of certifications. Applications are due Nov. 15 and the cost is $200 for market-rate residential projects and $100 for affordable projects.

Cheng said the goal is for developers to use GreenTRIP certification to help entire projects. One of the major reasons residential projects are rejected is because of traffic impacts, said Kate White, executive director of for the Urban Land Institute in San Francisco and member of GreenTRIP’s advisory board. GreenTRIP can assess whether or not a project does increase traffic in a given neighborhood.

“This effort has huge possibilities to have a very widespread impact on how projects are designed or reviewed,” White said.

One common criticism of building rating programs is that a project can earn a high rating and be located in a hard-to-reach place or built on former open space.

Another concern is that programs like LEED are geared more for commercial construction versus residential, said Lauri Moffet-Fehlberg, a LEED-certified architect with the Dahlin Group who is not affiliated with the program.

“You have to be practical and pragmatic with green choices because you need it to somehow affect the bottom line of your project,” she said. “There’s a range of options. You need to pick what’s the most suitable for your project.”


Read more: GreenTRIP rates projects by their transit links | San Francisco Business Times

Quote Extract: 

Most green certification programs such as the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rankings look at a building’s systems and materials while GreenTRIP focuses just on transportation.

“We provide a one-page scorecard that shows whether the developer is doing much more to ensure transportation for the life of a project,” said Ann Cheng, director of the program based in Oakland.

GreenTRIP is sponsored by TransForm, a Bay Area group that advocates public transportation and walkable communities.