Grandview Yard Takes the LEED on Neighborhood Design in Columbus, Ohio

by Kristin Harlow

COLUMBUS, OHIO — In spring 2009, the United States Green Building Council formally launched a new program with the vision of fundamentally changing how the country evaluated green design and development, LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND).

The launch of the LEED-ND program coincided with the first phase of Columbus, Ohio-based Nationwide Realty Investors’ Grandview Yard development: a $700 million, 1.2 million-square-foot, master-planned mixed-use neighborhood located in the fast-growing Grandview Heights community, just minutes from downtown Columbus and The Ohio State University.

The first standard of its kind, LEED-ND embraces principles of smart growth and new urbanism, encouraging sustainable and environmentally responsible design and development on a broad and integrated scale.

Like a scene in a movie that begins with the camera tightly focused on one element before zooming out to reveal an eye-opening new perspective, LEED-ND is about acknowledging context and connection.

Distinguished LEED project

Grandview Yard was one of the Midwest’s first LEED-ND Silver neighborhoods. When site work began on the first phase of development of the project in September of 2009, a comprehensive and ambitious on-site reuse and recycling strategy was already in place.

An extensive and highly-coordinated warehouse demolition process served as both a challenge and an opportunity to transform the industrial district, including the former Big Bear grocer warehousing and distribution site, into a vibrant mixed-use urban neighborhood. It would involve massive onsite remediation and reclamation of materials.

A concrete crusher methodically chewed through more than 60 tons of concrete per hour throughout the demolition of the huge warehouse and refrigeration buildings. More than 1.2 million cubic feet of crushed concrete stone and asphalt remained onsite and was reused under parking lots, building pads, roads, building foundations and sidewalks.

Salvaged and reclaimed steel was distributed to local and regional manufacturers. Machinery was sold or scrapped for recycling. Plastics and copper wiring were recycled. And the wood products were pulped, processed and reused as mulch. All told, approximately 80 percent of the buildings and their contents were either salvaged or recycled, and close to 60 percent of all recycled materials remained onsite and were reused in the development of Grandview Yard.

“Our plans for the reclamation and redevelopment of the site aligned very closely with the LEED-ND criteria which gave us the confidence to apply for certification early in our development process,” said Nationwide Realty Investor’s President and COO Brian J. Ellis. “We were in the middle of a national recession at the time and were one of the only developers in the United States actively working on a large-scale master-planned community that could qualify. We took advantage of the opportunity.”

While the large-scale reuse and recycling initiative at Grandview Yard was a clear nod toward an environmentally friendly construction approach, a large part of the project’s certification stems from Nationwide Realty Investor’s planning, design and development decisions. These were less about building design and materials, and more about neighborhood, lifestyle and connectivity. Simply put, less hardscape and more landscape.

“The exciting thing about LEED-ND is that it acknowledges the realities of complex communities,” said Ellis. “Creating a neighborhood isn’t just about the construction of individual buildings. It’s about generating a vision that brings complementary elements together where the whole is far greater than the sum of its parts.”

Grandview Yard includes more than three acres of publicly dedicated park space that encourages and supports a range of public events and activities. Facilitating and encouraging public transportation is also an important part of the LEED-ND standards. With shared transportation options and miles of walking and biking trails in the area, Grandview Yard residents, tenants and visitors have convenient and environmentally responsible mobility options literally at their doorstep.

Today, the 125-acre Grandview Yard neighborhood includes two hotels, an event center, nearly 1.2 million square feet of commercial space including four LEED-certified office and mixed-use buildings, a Giant Eagle grocery store, restaurants and retailers, approximately 4,000 daily employees, nearly 1,000 residential units and more than six miles of new streets and sidewalks.

Equal parts preservation, conservation and innovation, Grandview Yard is nationally recognized for presenting “community” in a way that reflects classic design, connectivity and public space ideals and principles while embracing and deploying modern materials, technologies and thinking in exciting new ways.

 — Randall Shearin

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