In December 2016, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released two new pilot certification programs, LEED for Cities and LEED for Communities. For the first time, a U.S. county has been named a Platinum level community, and that county is just around the corner from the nation’s capital.
The USGBC named Arlington County, Virginia, the winner of this certification, which acknowledges the area’s commitment to environmental stewardship and community sustainability with goals that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions, managing stormwater, and focusing on safety for residents and businesses. LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, the most widely used green building rating program.
According to the USGBC, Arlington County, Virginia’s focus on sustainability began in the 1960s during the Metrorail planning, followed by the Smart Growth strategies outlined in the General Land Use Plan. In 2007, the County stepped up its sustainability game by launching the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) effort with the goal to reduce carbon emissions by 10 percent by 2012, compared to 2000 levels.
More recently, in 2013, the County adopted the Community Energy Plan (CEP) in Arlington, Virginia's Comprehensive Plan with the goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75 percent by 2050.
In a statement, Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said, “It is truly an honor, and a validation of Arlington’s commitment to sustainability, to be the first to earn LEED for Communities Platinum certification, This has been a community effort, achieved by having a vision of combating climate change and promoting energy efficiency on a local level, and putting in place innovative policies and practices to achieve it. Now, more than ever, the responsibility for progress on climate change rests with local and state governments and with the private sector.”
In September 2017, Washington, D.C., became the world’s first LEED Platinum city, winning a LEED for Cities Platinum leadership certification from the USGBC, the organization’s highest award. What helped the District win this award is that it contains a total of 120 LEED-certified projects, the most LEED-certified projects per capita than any state.
• D.C. is the world’s first LEED Platinum city [Curbed DC]