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Concept: Eco-districts / Green neighbourhoods

As it happens with some other subsets of sustainability term or its application (i.e.: climate-neutral city, smart-sustainable city), there is not unique and clear definition for the eco-district term. Generalist definitions describe an eco-district as an urban development aiming to deploy the objectives of sustainable development, focusing on integrating environmental, social and economic goals. However, there is also an innovative component in the way that urban development is developed; an urban experiment that tests cities' capacities to implement sustainability core elements in a limited urban area, and to do so through an integrated planning approach as the Leipzig Charter states.

Regarding the transposition of the concept to real urban environments, cities and developers need pragmatic and systematic approaches to deploy the concept on-site, often resorting to the use of Neighbourhood Sustainability Assessment (NSA) frameworks. The most common certification schemes are:

  • DGNB System for Districts
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Neighbourhood Development (LEED ND)
  • Breeam Communities
  • HQE Aménagement (HQE A)
  • STAR Communities

According to the study of these NSA frameworks, the development of eco-districts has to incorporate an improvement of sustainability standards on each of the following main themes: governance structure, built environment and public space, social and economic wellbeing, energy and climate, natural resources, transportation, and land-use.

Examples of Eco-district certification schemes. DGNB System for Districts and LEED for Neighbourhood Development.

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