The intent of this pilot credit is to encourage any and all members of the project team to promote and further social equity by integrating strategies that address identified social and community needs and disparities among those affected by the project by:
Excerpted from LEED 2009 for Healthcare
Encourage any and all members of the project team to promote and further social equity by integrating strategies that address identified social and community needs and disparities among those affected by the project by:
The goal of the Social Equity in the Community Credit is to help projects address disparities in access and social inequities within a project’s own community. In order to go beyond charity to support meaningful transformation, building teams must begin to understand the various parts of their communities and understand how they are connected, and community members (particularly those who are vulnerable, disadvantaged and under-represented) must have a greater voice in decisions that impact them.
This credit awards one point to projects that undertake a process to understand who their community includes, identify community needs related to equity for vulnerable populations, and develop and implement strategies for the project to assist the community in meeting those needs. The relationship between building projects and social equity are complex. This credit is intended as a starting place to help green building projects understand their relationships to their community and implement targeted strategies that address social equity.
Effective community engagement and needs assessments are critical components of social equity. Building relationships and establishing trust can take years of work on the part of skilled practitioners. For some projects, working with community members is an integral part of the design process and improving equitable access is a core part of the project mission. For others, the ability to develop, implement and respond to an effective community engagement and needs assessment process may be beyond their scope or capabilities. Therefore this project provides two pathways for achievement. One is for a project to conduct their own community engagement and needs assessment process using the Social Economic Environmental Design (SEED) documentation system (Option 1). The other is for projects to partner with local organizations that already have existing relationships with the community and can participate as partners to represent community needs and concerns (Option 2).
Whether a project uses the SEED program to document their own process or partners with a community organization, they must then select one or more strategies to implement in order to promote social equity within disadvantaged populations.
The SEED (Social Economic Environmental Design) Network is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting a “culture of civic responsibility and engagement in the built environment and the public realm.” The SEED Evaluator is a tool to help “designers, project developers, community leaders and others who desire a common standard to guide, measure, evaluate and certify the social, economic and environmental impact of design projects.” The SEED Evaluator is available on-line when you create an account. It consists of three parts, which are required for SEED Certification. Only the first two parts are required for achievement of this pilot credit because the third part may not be completed until well after project occupancy (http://seednetwork.org).
The first step in promoting social equity within the community is to define that community.
From the perspective of building scale projects, communities have both geographic and functional definitions. Geographic communities start with your neighborhood—the people who live and work in and near your project and interact with it by proximity. The exact distance can depend on your setting. In urban environments, it may be everyone living or working within a few city blocks or within a ¼ mile. In rural areas, where the distance between neighbors might be much greater, the radius may be larger. Geographic communities extend further out beyond your neighborhood to include your town, city or county. All of these may be relevant.
Functional communities include all of the people who come to your building to work or visit. These people may or may not live nearby. This category includes your employees, contractors, operations staff, and visitors. It may vary significantly depending on the type of project. For example, housing, offices, hotels, schools or retail projects will all have unique combinations of occupants, contractors and visitors.
In new projects, these definitions can be challenging as they may be in flux. For example, if your project may potentially contribute to displacement of people who currently live or work on the site but may not be able to afford to stay, these people should be included in your community assessment. Similarly, if there are employees who have yet to be hired or contracts yet to be assigned (e.g. for maintenance), these future community members should be included. Both of these groups provide opportunities for meaningful social equity interventions.
In addition, community can be defined by other types of affinities or commonalities, such as age religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as by income level, homelessness, mental health, or education levels. Your project may choose to focus on one or more of these groups, regardless of their proximity or direct relationship to the project. For instance, projects located in low income or disadvantaged communities might focus on their immediate neighbors, while projects in more affluent communities might focus on workers or visitors who travel to the site from further away.
The purpose of this credit is not just to help improve connections with the various aspects of your community (although that is important). The goal is to focus on the members of your community who are chronically vulnerable, disadvantaged, underserved, or have limited access, and to find ways within your project to begin to address these inequities (see Submittals section for details).
Identify one or more non-profit organizations that work directly with the people of vulnerable community that you have identified in Step 1. Engage these organizations as partners to help identify ways that your project can improve social equity for the population they represent. Qualifying organizations must have a mission that is directly related to social equity issues and must conduct direct community outreach and engagement with your targeted community component. Examples of acceptable organizations include:
Qualifying organizations must meet the following criteria:
Based on the results of your collaboration with your partnering community organization, select and implement a strategy/strategies that improve social equity within the populations you have targeted within your community. Strategies should focus on issues such as:
The strategy must include at least one of the following:
*The following are links to Organizations/Standards discussed in this credit:
Register for the pilot credit
Provide full completed copies of Parts 1 and 2 of the SEED Evaluator, including all comments received throughout the process from SEED Reviewers.
Complete the Option 2 Documentation Template found on the resources tab of this credit.
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