During the annual Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in November, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced that more than 100 cities and communities have now achieved LEED certification. The City of Atlanta, this year’s Greenbuild host city, marked the 100th certification. USGBC launched LEED for Cities and Communities in 2016 as a globally consistent framework for measuring and tracking sustainability at the city and community scale. The rating system tracks progress across key performance indicators, including energy, waste, water, transportation, resilience, health and equity. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and USGBC’s President and CEO Mahesh Ramanujam announced the city’s certification and work during the conference’s Wednesday keynote.
“We have been envisioning a new way forward for the growth of resilient, green, inclusive and smart cities and communities and believe that by focusing on performance we can better understand how our decisions impact the planet and our quality of life,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “Celebrating this milestone with the City of Atlanta here at Greenbuild is a tremendous honor. Atlanta’s work is an inspiration and shows how sustainability can be a tool for addressing some of the challenges residents are facing, while also helping to reduce carbon, energy and waste, and conserve water. Atlanta and the more than 100 other LEED-certified cities and communities help open the door for new businesses and stimulates a robust green, economy.”
Atlanta’s Resilience Strategy was a central tenant contributing to its certification and builds on both the challenges and opportunities the city faces. By making resilience a key part of its sustainability strategy, the city is focused on efforts that support residents and address some of the region’s more pressing issues.
Initiatives include the Atlanta Resilience Equity and Design Collective (RED Lab) partnership with Georgia Tech to help residents use data and technology to solve community issues that contribute to or detract from the livability of their neighborhoods. The EV Rideshare Program provides transportation services to those with low mobility access, including previously incarcerated individuals. Additionally, the city’s Clean Energy Plan is intended to move Atlanta to 100 percent clean energy by prioritizing equity and affordable clean energy options. The city has also made impressive strides in reducing energy consumption in buildings through the Atlanta Better Buildings Challenge and reached its 2020 goal of 20 percent reduction ahead of schedule.
The LEED for Cities and Communities rating system is a roadmap for helping leaders measure their impact, improve sustainability and develop plans for green energy, water, waste, transportation and other factors contributing to quality of life. LEED cities and communities are laboratories of innovation and help demonstrate how sustainability can also be a tool for social problem solving. Today, the more than 100 LEED-certified cities and communities represent more than 46 million people around the world. The growth of LEED for Cities and Communities is supported through partners like Bank of America Charitable Foundation, which provided $750,000 in grants to support more than 20 U.S. cities and counties pursuing certification, including Atlanta.
Since 2016, LEED has been applied to a variety of global cities, from San Jose, California to Surat, India, as well as business districts and other newly designated areas, such as Peter Cooper Village in New York and Beijing Daxing International Airport in China. USGBC will continue to refine the latest version of the rating system, LEED v4.1, based on feedback from cities and communities, urban planners and sustainability experts. Cities and communities interested in certification can begin the process by registering online.