Earlier today, a group of environmental analysts descended on Louisville’s East Market–or NuLu–neighborhood for a tour. They’re in town thanks to a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency, and for three days they’ll be studying the neighborhood with an eye toward ways to improve its sustainability.
Global Green—a California-based environmental non-profit—is leading the project, with help from local community leaders and the U.S. Green Building Council. As they learn more about NuLu, they’ll be offering recommendations to make the neighborhood more livable and environmentally friendly.
To do that, they’re using a newly developed standard. LEED—or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—certification has been around for buildings for awhile. But now there’s a LEED standard for neighborhoods too.
Chris Marshall with the U.S. Green Building Council is along on the tour. He says the goal isn’t necessarily to certify NuLu as a LEED neighborhood, but to apply the standard’s ideas to make it more sustainable.
“We are evaluating land use designs, urban design, transportation decisions,” Marshall says. “Basically, built environment characteristics that are more pertinent to the neighborhood level instead of the building level.”
He says many neighborhoods that end up seeking LEED certification are newer, planned communities. But there’s no reason that an older, established community can remake itself as environmentally sustainable.
As they walk, the group is documenting everything.
“Bikes,” says Walker Wells of Global Green. “But kind of on the sidewalk, kind of against traffic.” He points at two men, cycling across the street. Wells takes a picture, and notes the absence of bike lanes on Jefferson Street.
“And really what this whole thing is about is to get local context,” he says. “We can read the plans, we can look at maps on the internet, but it’s a whole different experience to be here.”
The group will be in Louisville until Friday, and will issue a report with recommendations for the neighborhood sometime in the next few months. Their visit will include a community workshop Thursday evening to get community input about NuLu. The meeting will be at 5:00 at Market Hall, 735 E. Market St.