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Two Green certifications focused on land development - how do they stack up?

Damiyen Wilkerson
September 6, 2023

Comparing Land Development Certifications: NGBS Green vs. LEED ND

The  NGBS Green Land Development Certification is a robust and rigorous rating system that is comparable to that of LEED Neighborhood Development (LEED ND) with some key advantages. While the rating systems are not identical, there is a significant overlap between the two programs. Most of the green development practices within the NGBS Chapter 4 Site Design and Development and LEED ND overlap, making the two rating systems equivalent in scope and intent. 

Evaluating certification equivalency requires a comparison of four elements of the programs: 

1. the rating system’s goals

2. the process for the development and maintenance of the rating system

3. the rating system’s substantive requirements

4. the rigor of the verification and certification process and procedures

A comparison of these four elements demonstrates that NGBS Green Land Development Certification is at least equivalent to LEED ND certification. 


Both the NGBS and LEED ND rating systems promote and recognize high-performing, sustainable communities that offer a variety of uses and unique places for residents to live, work, and play. 

Development & Maintenance

Both systems followed a consensus-based process for their development, although only the NGBS has won approval as an ANSI-approved American National Standard. This means the NGBS development process is reviewed and approved by ANSI, an independent third-party, to ensure all stakeholders’ due process rights were met through stringent requirements for a collaborative, publicly open, balanced, and consensus-based review, and approval process. There is no higher validation of a standard’s development process or the resultant standard than approval by a standard developing organization such as ANSI.

Substantive Requirements

Many of the substantive requirements of the two standards are similar; however, NGBS Green Land Development Certification is also a great tool for builders and developers to utilize to meet Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) goals for their residential real estate portfolio. The Land Development Certification has many practices that can help meet environmental and social goals including an emphasis on health and wellness. Both the NGBS Land Development and LEED ND rating systems award points to land developments that incorporate: (1) local food production; (2) development density; (3) and walkability. The NGBS takes it a step further and awards for: (4) community composting; (5) insect mitigation; and (6) smoking prohibitions. Both certification programs are well aligned with the GRESB Reporting Framework and thus can help contribute toward a higher GRESB score and ranking, with practices from Chapter 4 Site Design and Development of the NGBS completely satisfying indicator DRE2 Site Selection Requirements.  Download the NGBS x GRESB Crosswalk


Although there are differences in structure and compliance criteria, the NGBS Chapter 4 Site Design and Development section and LEED ND are functional equivalents. Since it was developed, the NGBS has been consistently considered on par, or more stringent, than LEED as a green building rating system for residential projects at the federal, state, and local level. For a more complete listing of where the NGBS has been recognized, check out our NGBS Incentive Summary


We are often asked, “Is the NGBS equivalent to LEED?” The answer is clear – jurisdictions consistently deem the NGBS and LEED as substantive equivalents regarding requirements as green rating systems. Find out more with our in-depth analysis here

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