While local governance is widely acknowledged as an important element in the pursuit of sustainability, local action alone is insufficient to produce lasting change. One recent solution to this quandary has been the production of certification frameworks that encourage sustainable development at the neighbourhood scale by providing local actors with standardised definitions of sustainable practices. While these frameworks facilitate the spread of sustainable development strategies between local communities, there are significant contrasts between their approaches to encouraging local sustainable development that simultaneously fulfils global objectives. This article explores these contrasts through two neighbourhood-scale sustainability certification frameworks: LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) and the EcoDistricts Protocol. Analysis of these frameworks in the context of two centrally-located neighbourhoods in Portland, Oregon, reveals substantial contrasts between the two frameworks in terms of the relative flexibility of their sustainability metrics, the time frame over which decisions regarding sustainable development are made, and community involvement in the process of pursuing specific objectives. Furthermore, it suggests that greater flexibility in the application of standards, continuous governance, and greater community involvement lead to more dynamic and holistic forms of sustainability that evolve as both local community needs and broader understandings of sustainability change over time.
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