What's Your Walk Score?

Thu, 2009-09-24 01:50

Those who have taken the LEED exam or who have worked on a LEED project know that the first thing on the USGBC LEED Certification checklist is Sustainable Sites and Community Connectivity. In order to get these points toward LEED certification, your building must have pedestrian access to at least 10 of the basic services below within ½ mile:

Bank, place of worship, convenience grocery, day care, cleaners, fire station, hair care, hardware, laundry, library, medical/dental, senior care facility, park, pharmacy, post office, restaurant, school, supermarket, commercial office, community center, or other recognized services evaluated on their merit. 

A local Seattle company, Walk Score, has just launched a new service to calculate the walkability of your neighborhood. When deciding where to run your business, you should look for a building that has a high Walk Score. Having a higher Walk Score can provide local businesses with foot traffic to help sustain their business. 

The one thing that Walk Score does not factor in is alternative transportation. They are aware of this and have an FAQ that addresses this on their website.

I entered my home address into the search box. The Walk Score was 75 out of 100. This level of walkability means it is "possible to get by without a car." Walk Score ranks 2,508 neighborhoods in the largest 40 U.S. cities to help you find a walkable place to live.

I could spend hours on this website. I started entering in friends' home addresses, friends' work addresses, and my home address from 10 years ago! Compare the knowledge you have from studying Sustainable Sites credit 2 and see if your predictions match what Walk Score says.

Pay close attention to your results. If you look at the places with the highest walkability score, they are overwhelmingly very urban areas with a lot of business – you might as well call this the spendability score because it really shows how many places are nearby that you could spend your money at. It also doesn’t take into account safety of the areas it analyzes, urban congestion, noise, taxes, or a myriad of other factors. This is really a self-serving attempt to relabel cities and urban areas as "walkable," thereby putting a positive spin on them without considering their other attributes.

Those of us lucky enough to grow up in New England towns already know this secret; we walked to schools, there was a town common or green, there were stores you could walk to, along with the library and post office. Many “new” towns take their style after an old New England town – hoping to bring back that sense of community so missing in suburbs. 

Visit the website and decide for yourself how you can apply Walk Score to a potential site. The Walk Score application for iPhone is available at Apple stores now, so you can keep Sustainable Sites in mind always.

What Walk Scores have you received?!


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