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Emirates Green Building Council

The United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s strongest advocates of green schools closed out 2017 with the formal launch of the Emirates Coalition for Green Schools. In a roundtable event convened by the Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC), government representatives, academics, teachers, education and sustainability stakeholders and private sector representatives came together to discuss a national vision for healthy, high-performing schools.

As a founding member of the Global Coalition for Green Schools—which was founded by the Center for Green Schools at USGBC, in partnership with the World Green Building Council—EmiratesGBC has been leading the UAE’s green schools to work since 2013.

Research and recommendations for UAE schools

The first in a series of planned events, the November roundtable was focused on how each distinctive stakeholder group could contribute to the shared goal of greening UAE’s schools. The event culminated in the release of the State of Our Schools white paper, which outlines recommendations for transforming UAE’s schools into more sustainable learning environments. The white paper is supported by the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy, Taqati, and Etihad Energy Services and was developed with the Center for Green Schools.

The roundtable encapsulated a significant challenge in the industry: A very limited number of schools currently meet the agreed-upon definition of a green school in the UAE. For instance, as noted in the white paper, a recent study found that across 16 elementary schools examined, the average total VOC, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and particulate concentration were outside of the recommended ranges for classroom environments. Improvements to indoor air quality in UAE schools have been highlighted as a specific need to address.

Working together for a common goal

In addition, the establishment of the Emirates Coalition shows that the global movement is taking root in other countries, bringing together multidisciplinary actors to develop strategies and resources to address the most pressing issues. Collaboration across different sectors in the UAE is helping green schools and improve the sustainability literacy of local students.

The Emirates Coalition is also considering the potential of green schools more broadly. As the white paper emphasizes, greener schools would contribute to the UAE’s educational targets for 2021, as well as aid in achieving national and municipal energy, water and waste reduction targets.

For a U.S. perspective on these issues, read the Center for Green Schools’ 2016 State of Our Schools report, which analyzes the best available school district data about K–12 public school facilities funding and identifies strategies for addressing the structural deficits in our education infrastructure.

Annual Top 10 States for LEED Green Building

Massachusetts tops the list for the second year; New York, Hawaii and Illinois showcase leadership in geographically diverse locations

Washington, D.C. — (Jan. 31, 2018) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released the annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. The list ranks states in terms of certified square feet per resident in 2017. The list draws attention to states throughout America that are making significant strides in sustainable design, construction and transformation at the building level and opens up conversations around the community and city-level accomplishments in sustainable development. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for occupants and the community at large.

“As the U.S. Green Building Council celebrates 25 years of market leadership and growth, we know how important green building practices and certifications are to ensuring a more sustainable future for all,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president, and CEO, USGBC. “These states showcase exceptional leadership and by using LEED, businesses, property owners, and policymakers in these states are strategically addressing some of the most critical social and environmental concerns of our time. LEED is a proven economic development tool and method of meeting carbon reduction targets, reducing waste, energy and water consumption, and more. By measuring success on a per capita level each year, this list reflects the personal and individual impact of these states’ efforts. We commend the community leaders, businesses and government bodies in all ten of these states for their ongoing efforts and dedication to a better quality of life for everyone.”

Now in its eighth year, the list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2017. Massachusetts retained its top position for the second year in a row with 130 LEED certifications representing 4.48 square feet of LEED-certified space per resident, the highest since 2010.

The mid-Atlantic continues to show strong regional leadership, with both Maryland and Virginia returning to the list for the seventh year running. Also notable, Washington, D.C., which is not included in the official list of top states due to its status as a federal territory, tops the nation with 39.83 square feet of space per resident certified in 2017.

With Georgia, Hawaii and Minnesota all returning to the list for the first time since 2014, it is clear that market uptake for LEED is strong nationwide and not limited to any particular region or corridor. Illinois and Colorado are the only states to have made the list every year since the inception of the ranking in 2010. This year, Illinois comes in third with 3.38 square feet per capita and Colorado places 10th with 2.27 square feet per capita. The 2017 list has the highest average square footage per resident per state since 2010 (2.9). The full ranking is as follows:

2017 Top 10 States for LEED



Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF)

GSF Per Capita

Number of Projects Certified
























































*Included in 2016 Top 10 States for LEED list

**Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state

USGBC calculates the list using per capita figures to allow for a fair comparison of the level of the green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings.

In 2017, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance (LEED O+M) was once again the most popular rating system within the Top 10 States, representing more than 50 percent of the total square footage certified. LEED for Building Design and Construction (LEED BD+C) was the second most popular and LEED for Interior Design and Construction (LEED ID+C) was the third most popular rating system. A sample of notable projects that certified in 2017 include:

  • Massachusetts: Boston Public Market, a 28,000 square foot indoor, year-round marketplace with 40 regional food vendors in Boston, achieved LEED Silver;
  • New York: Animal Haven Adoption Center, a 6,700 square foot shelter and adoption center for abandoned animals in New York City, achieved LEED Silver;
  • Illinois: Chicago Children’s Theatre, a 15,300 square foot mixed-use education and performing arts facility in Chicago, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Hawaii: The Moana Surfrider Resort by Westin, a 605,400 square foot resort and spa in Honolulu, achieved LEED Certified;
  • Maryland: MGM National Harbor, a 1.3 million square foot casino resort in Oxon Hill, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Minnesota: U.S. Bank Stadium, a 1.8 million square foot professional sports facility in Minneapolis and host of the 2018 Super Bowl, achieved LEED Gold;
  • Georgia: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, a 1.9 million square foot professional sports stadium in Atlanta, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • California: LA Lakers Headquarters, a 96,800 square foot commercial office building in El Segundo, achieved LEED Platinum;
  • Virginia: The Rotunda at the University of Virginia, a 38,500 historic multi-use space in Charlottesville, achieved LEED Silver; and

Collectively, 1,399 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification within the Top 10 States in 2017, representing 314.7 million square feet of real estate. Nationwide, 2,647 commercial and institutional projects achieved LEED certification in 2017, representing 484.6 million square feet of real estate.

More than 40,000 commercial and institutional projects representing more than 6.5 billion square feet of space have been LEED-certified to date worldwide, with another 51,000 projects representing 13 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. LEED’s newest version, LEED v4, features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and mid-rise residential projects; and a simplified submission process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform. Tracking ongoing building performance is a growing priority and a number of projects in the Top 10 States achieved certification through the Arc online performance platform, which uses data to measure and improve sustainability performance. Arc delivers a performance score based on building data and action-oriented strategies across energy, water, waste, transportation, and human experience.

How LEED combats climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change.

The Earth’s climate is changing, and 97 percent of climate scientists agree that it is likely due to human activities. So where does that leave us and the rest of the building industry?

Buildings account for more than one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), according to the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction. Add in other infrastructure and activities, such as transportation, that is associated with buildings, and that number jumps.

By building green, we can reduce the impact our buildings have on contributing to climate change, while also building resilience into our homes and communities.

LEED vs climate change

One of the goals that guided the development of LEED v4 was reversing a LEED building’s contribution to global climate change. High-performing green buildings, particularly LEED-certified buildings, play a key role in reducing the negative climate impacts of the built environment. For this reason, 35 of the 100 total points in LEED v4 are distributed to reward climate change mitigation strategies.

The LEED process addresses a structure’s planning, design, construction, operations and end of life as well as considering energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials selection, and location. Green buildings reduce landfill waste, enable alternative transportation use and encourage retention and creation of vegetated land areas and roofs.

LEED rewards thoughtful decisions about building location, with credits that encourage compact development and connection with transit and amenities. When a building consumes less water, the energy otherwise required to withdraw, treat and pump that water from the source to the building are avoided. Additionally, less transport of materials to and from the building cuts associated fuel consumption.

Here are some of the ways that LEED weighs the various credits and strategies so that LEED projects can mitigate their contribution to global climate change:

  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Building Operations Energy Use: To target energy use reductions directly associated with building operations. This includes all building systems and operations within the building or associated grounds that rely on electricity or other fuel sources for energy consumption.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from Transportation Energy Use: To target energy use reductions associated with the transportation of building occupants, employees, customers, visitors, business travel, etc.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from the Embodied Energy of Materials and Water Use: To target GHG-emissions reductions associated with the energy use and processes required in the extraction, production, transportation, conveyance, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, use, posttreatment, and disposal of materials, products, and processed water. Any measures that directly reduce the use of potable water, non-potable water, or raw materials (e.g. reduced packaging, building reuse) will indirectly reduce energy as well because of the embodied energy associated with these product life cycles.
  • GHG Emissions Reduction from a Cleaner Energy Supply: To target actions and measures that support a cleaner, fewer GHG-emissions intensive energy supply and a greater reliance on renewable sources of energy.
  • Global Warming Potential Reduction from Non-Energy Related Drivers: To address the non-energy related climate change drivers (e.g. albedo, carbon sinks, non-energy related GHG emissions) and identifies actions that reduce these contributions to climate change (e.g. land use changes, heat island reduction, reforestation, refrigerant purchases).

Some of the top credits in LEED v4 BD+C, ID+C, and O+M that are associated with mitigating global climate change:

  • LT Credit: Surrounding Density and Diverse Uses
  • LT Credit: Access to Quality Transit / Alternative Transportation
  • WE Credit: Outdoor Water Use Reduction
  • WE Credit: Indoor Water Use Reduction
  • EA Credit: Optimize Energy Performance
  • EA Credit: Renewable Energy Production / Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets
  • EA Credit: Enhanced Refrigerant Management
  • EA Credit: Green Power and Carbon Offsets
  • MR Credit: Building Life-Cycle Impact Reduction / Interiors Life-Cycle Impact Reduction

To learn more about LEED and how it can help reduce the impact of global climate change, head to Greenbuild in Boston this November 8–10 (or check out our Greenbuild events in China or India). Greenbuild features LEED workshops, hundreds of green building educational sessions and inspiring speakers and events

Cities share strategies for energy innovation at Better Buildings Summit

Published on 12 Jun 2017 Written by Alysson Blackwelder Posted in Advocacy and policy

At this year’s Better Buildings Summit, hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy from May 15–17 in Washington, D.C., public and private stakeholders seized the opportunity to share their challenges and successes in reaching greater energy performance. Among those making strides to improve their energy efficiency were our nation’s cities, and USGBC was there to celebrate their latest achievements.

Here are a few examples from cities we’re proud to count as USGBC members, cities we hope will inspire others to innovate on local energy policy:

  • With the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050, Seattlehas amassed a vehicle fleet that will help drive the city in the right direction. Andrea Pratt, Green Fleet Program Manager, shared that of its total fleet of 4,000, Seattle now has 99 battery electric vehicles and 47 plug-in hybrid vehicles. To help sustain this fleet, the city has successfully retrofitted an existing parking garage to include two floors of EV infrastructure.
  • Calling itself “The Green Port,” Long Beach, California, is home to the second busiest port in the U.S. Its Green Port Policy directs the port to incorporate sustainabilityin its development and operations. Richard Cameron, the port’s Managing Director of Planning and Environmental Affairs, spoke on its efforts to quantify and address greenhouse gas emissions. Its Middle Harbor is currently being redeveloped, and once completed in 2018, will reduce air pollution from port-related operations by 50 percent or more at the terminals. The terminal uses zero-emission automated guided vehicles, as well as solar panels, shore-side electrical power for ships and expanded on-dock rail for moving cargo via rail instead of trucks.
  • Travis Sheehan, Senior Infrastructure Advisor at the Boston Planning and Development Agency, discussed Boston’s efforts to adapt to the effects of climate change. The city has taken steps to strengthen its energy resilience to avoid disruptions for its residents. For Boston, a key to making progress in this area is developing public and private partnerships across different industries.

These latest actions are just a snapshot of city leadership in energy performance. These cities have a long history of efforts to address building energy efficiency, with LEED being a part of their toolbox.

Indeed, Seattle, the Port of Long Beach, and Boston each have LEED building policies in place, ensuring that at least some of their buildings meet this standard. In addition, Boston and Seattle are ranked first and third in this year’s ACEEE City Scorecard (Long Beach is not ranked, due to size).


Five ways data is driving green performance

Published on 13 Jun 2017 Written by Scot Horst Posted in Industry

 The CEO of Arc Skoru, Inc., shares his thoughts on how data is driving a new era of green building performance.

When it comes to sustainability, data is ushering in a new era of green performance. Thanks to the digital age, our ability to capture data is virtually limitless, and the information we gather has the ability to drive better decisions—economically, socially and environmentally.

Over the last two decades, USGBC and GBCI have gathered vast amounts of green building data through transformative tools such as LEED. Recognizing the critical role data is playing, GBCI created Arc, a digital platform that is helping buildings, communities and cities around the world benchmark and improve green performance.

As we continue to prove that financial benefits accrue with environmental benefits, performance data will be at the center of market transformation.

Here are five ways data is driving a new era of green building performance:

  1. Transparency: Data creates a holistic picture of sustainability efforts and impact. Tracking green performance also helps businesses keep pace with industry changes. Arc gives its users a transparent look at performance using real-time data. The approach encourages incremental improvement and uncovers innovative opportunities.
  2. Comparison:Comparing performance leads to better results for everyone. Data is a powerful motivator and allows us all to learn from one another’s successes and shortcomings. Projects on Arc can see how their efforts are working and how they stack up to similar projects locally, regionally and globally.
  3. Benchmarking: When you benchmark against yourself, you improve. Benchmarking against others helps you know how much you can improve. Leadership can occur anywhere, at any point. Benchmarking through Arc provides an immediate entry point, no matter where you are on your sustainability journey. It is a clear starting point and can help you move toward LEED certification.
  4. Collaborative learning: Projects pursuing multiple sustainability efforts at once—energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience—make better decisions when data is shared across teams. Arc connects actions so that buildings, communities and cities can ensure they are performing at the highest possible levels. It also integrates with Energy Star’sPortfolio Manager and other industry tools to drive even greater results.
  5. Performance beyond buildings: Data allows us to see results. Results are the core of performance. In Arc, net zero performance in energy and water is shown through a perfect score. Data is also allows us to be non-linear. So we don’t have to separate buildings from communities and cities. With Arc, users can look at performance of buildings,  neighborhoods, districts, cities and more.

By connecting actions, data is redefining our built environment. The more projects harness the power of their data, the more connections are made, the more actions are taken, the more real our work and the better our quality of life.


Tucson leads in green building with Emerging 2030 District (USGBC Arizona)

Published on 5 May 2017 Written by Michael Peel Posted in Community

USGBC Arizona feted the public launch of the Tucson Emerging 2030 District at the historic Hotel Congress on April 20 with a sold-out tour and networking reception. The dynamic partnership between USGBC Arizona and the emerging district began in 2015 with the support of USGBC volunteers using USGBC’s ADVANCE framework.

This work catalyzed the rapid development of an impressive district in downtown Tucson in just over a year. The April 20 event celebrated this success and engaged local building owners, managers and developers.

Meeting the national 2030 Challenge on a local level

The Tucson Emerging 2030 District is the first of its kind in Arizona, and part of the national Architecture 2030 Challenge. This member-based organization consists of real estate owners, managers, developers, industry professionals and community stakeholders who work toward substantially reducing the environmental impact of building construction and operations. This, in turn, contributes to Tucson’s resurgent economy.

The 2030 District’s public-private partnership brings property owners and managers together with local governments, businesses and community stakeholders to provide a business model for urban sustainability through collaboration, leveraged financing and shared resources, improving the health and welfare of Tucson and its citizens.

Recognizing a need to support education and subject matter expertise for building owners and managers in the district, USGBC Arizona connects volunteer subject matter experts with district participants to benchmark their properties using Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager. With this data, teams develop and implement creative strategies, best practices and verification methods for measuring progress toward a common goal: the Architecture 2030 Challenge targets of 50 percent reduction in energy use, water use and transportation emissions by the year 2030.

Celebrating at the Hotel Congress

The tour and reception on April 20 highlighted this work, as well as the impressive green features of the Hotel Congress, one of the early Tucson Emerging 2030 District participants. Hotel Congress was named “Arizona’s Greenest Workplace 2016” in Arizona’s Greenest Workplace Challenge and is now a Gold Level Green Leader on TripAdvisor.

Their green initiatives include:

Sourcing local/sustainable ingredients for their restaurant

Using Refresh Glass upcycled from wine bottles

Eliminating as many straws as possible as a part of the One Less Straw campaign with One More Generation

Switching to 100 percent recycled paper coasters that are compostable

Converting to compostable drink cups

Providing guests with solar-heated water

Florida Fourth in Number of LEED Projects in USA in 2016

February 02, 2017 Sarah Boren (Administrator)

Boca Raton, FL  (February 3, 2017) — Florida ranked fourth in the number of LEED projects in the U.S. in 2016, according to an annual ranking produced by the US Green Building Council.  The annual ranking highlights states throughout the United States that made significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation over the past year.  LEED is the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system.

“This speaks volumes about Florida’s commitment to environmental excellence and social responsibility,” said Mike Hess, Chair of the USGBC Florida Chapter.  “We applaud the companies, owners, municipalities and everyone who played even a small part in this effort to deliver environmentally responsible, healthy and resource-efficient buildings in 2016 and in the future.”

Across the USA, 3,366 projects were LEED Certified in 2016, representing 470.39 million square feet.  In 2016, Florida saw 204 new LEED Certified projects representing more than 15 million square feet.  Through January 10, 2017, Florida has 1,422 LEED Certified projects representing more than 125 million square feet.

In 2016, 53 percent of LEED building space was Certified in LEED’s Operations and Maintenance rating systems, representing a shifting focus toward greening the nation’s existing buildings stock.  LEED for Building Design and Construction, which primarily deals with new construction and major renovations, represented 42 percent of the Certified square footage Certified.  LEED for Interior Design and Construction made up approximately 5 percent of total square footage Certified.



Green anchors: LEED-certified venues spur urban growth

Published on 22 Feb 2017 Written by Rhiannon Jacobsen Posted in LEED

From sports arenas to museums, from concert halls to theaters, venues are iconic fixtures in the built environment that engage millions of people. They are centers of innovation, culture and community pride that can represent a city, a region and even whole countries. They also serve as important catalysts for development, bringing together planners, architects, developers, local government officials and residents to invest in the future growth and health of their communities.

 Growing the community

By nature, these spaces consume considerable energy and water resources, while also producing large quantities of waste. Implementing green practices in these spaces is not only a good business model in the long run, but as more and more operators embrace the role of environmental stewards and community ambassadors, they also inspire others to be proactive in the areas of social responsibility and sustainability.

Venues, and especially sports stadiums, have outsized impacts on both the environment and the community, given their size and scope. Every year, the top 200 stadiums in the U.S. alone draw roughly 181 million visitors.

Restaurants, hotels and retail spaces pop up to serve the crowds, followed by offices and other commercial buildings, which often ultimately leads to new residential development.

 Nationals Park scores for D.C. 

You need look no further than Nationals Park, located in southeast Washington, D.C., to see the economic, social and environmental benefits. Opened in 2008, the park currently makes $35 million in annual revenue, and estimates suggest that the city generates about $100 million in annual tax revenue from redevelopment around the stadium’s Capital Riverfront area. On top of that, this remediated brownfield site is easily accessible to public transportation, and is just one of many ways that the city demonstrates green building leadership.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to come out of the park’s development is the revival of community and the resurgence of southeast D.C.’s neighborhoods, as more and more people are attracted by new residential, retail and entertainment offerings—as well as plenty of green space.

Like many other venues, Nationals Park anchors the community, spurs growth and contributes to an authentic identity that’s tied to the built environment. Beyond giving a defined purpose for city districts, venues give people a place to connect and share their experiences.


Green infrastructure: City climate action planning

Published on 2 Sep 2016 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

We are breaking world records this year. We are on track for the hottest year on record. Already, 15 of the 16 warmest years on record have occurred during the young 21st century, and this year is adding yet another extreme to the list. This mounting challenge drove world leaders to come to a landmark agreement at last winter’s Paris talks.

The emissions reduction targets formalized in Paris tell us what our emission levels should be, but if you’re like me, you might be asking how we are going to get there. Thankfully, we know that green infrastructure boasts many benefits that could be part of the solution.

City climate action plans are steering cities in their implementation of policies and actions providing both tangible local benefits and contributing to global impact.

Cities can generally be doing more. Here’s a summary of findings from my review of climate action plans from 28 U.S. cities. On the whole, 21 of the 28 plans mention green infrastructure at various depths.

Some plans detail robust implementation strategies and specific initiatives, while others mention green infrastructure as a general concept, but lack a developed discussion or implementation strategy.

Most cities appear to be aware of green infrastructure as a possible solution set, but their climate action plans do not demonstrate a current understanding or commitment to put it to maximum use.

Whether or not the term “green infrastructure” is mentioned, most city climate action plans are outlining ways for green infrastructure to help, including:

 Urban forests and urban agriculture: 25 plans include urban forestry initiatives and 26 include urban agriculture programs. Considering only 21 plans mention green infrastructure, it is safe to say cities see the value in green infrastructure practices even if they don’t identify them that way.

Transportation and streetscapes: 20 of the plans refer to green infrastructure in relation to street design and public rights-of-way. These plans encourage permeable surfacesplanted medians and stormwater planters along streets and sidewalks. Green infrastructure is often coupled with initiatives to create safe and inviting street environments that promote walking and alternative transportation.

Green roofs: 16 of the plans discuss green roofs. Some cities require green roofs for new development. It is common for cities to offer direct development incentives such as density bonuses, permit fast-tracking, or floor-area-ratio bonuses for projects with green roofs. Many cities also offer grants to assist building owners with retrofitting their roofs. Stormwater fees further incentivize green roofs by linking savings with reduced runoff.

Bioswales, rain gardens and water catchment systems: Bioswales and rain gardens are mentioned in 11 of the plans, and water catchment devices in 13. City ordinances designed to manage stormwater tend to promote these strategies, and so can codes that guide street design. Cities are taking a more critical look at parking as well and encouraging these practices to reduce runoff and pollution.

It’s clear that the elements of green infrastructure are recognized as effective strategies to address climate action, but more remains to be done to harness the full range of benefits. In addition to meaningful climate action, green infrastructure can move cities closer to achieving myriad other goals, including social equity.

Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Industry

Green infrastructure: Best practices for cities

Published on 10 Jan 2017 Written by Hannah Jane Brown Posted in Advocacy and policy

Next time you take a walk around your city, look around. Is there green infrastructure near you? If not, there might be soon! Green infrastructure is becoming a more widely adopted strategy for addressing city challenges and goals.

In addition to taking root in climate action planning, cities are weaving green infrastructure into sustainability efforts and throughout myriad other initiatives. Recent articles on city climate action planning and fostering equity highlighted trends and best practices.

Some leading U.S. cities have already taken steps to invest in green infrastructure in a way that ensures benefits across the triple bottom line:

 Chicago, Illinois: The city’s climate action plan calls for 500 new green roofs each year, leading up to 2020, to help manage stormwater and the urban heat island. Chicago is well on its way already, with over 500, and it continues to be among the national leaders in green roof development. The city led by example, installing a green roof on its City Hall building in 2000. Since, green infrastructure has been further promoted through city ordinances and programs such as the Green Alley program, the Sustainable Development Policy and a stormwater ordinance.

Baltimore, Maryland: Since 2010, the city has been focused on reversing urban blight using green infrastructure and community spaces through the Vacants to Value program. Since the program launched, 700 new community-managed spaces have been created from previously vacant properties. Complementary city-run initiatives, such as urban agriculture and arts programs, are expanding more equitable access to land and green spaces while harnessing the benefits of a greener city.

Portland, Oregon: The city’s climate action plan prioritizes urban forest development in underserved areas, helping to grow the urban canopy with a more equitable distribution. Unlike most plans, Portland’s sets a minimum canopy coverage target, which prioritizes underserved neighborhoods. Portland’s plan includes an initiative to revisit canopy targets in the future to ensure they better capture resiliency outcomes, equitable distribution, and biodiversity.

 Guiding principles for cities

Data-driven. Cities use GIS mapping, census data and visualization tools to drive planning. This can include mapping current green infrastructure together with demographic information, as well as using models to understand future climate scenarios. Strategies are strongest when they consider cross-disciplinary information, both qualitative and quantitative.

Place-based. Green infrastructure projects are site-specific and community-based. Implementation involves community and stakeholder engagement to ensure the planning process recognizes distinctions within a city across ecological, social and cultural dimensions. Green infrastructure projects are best if they follow the local community’s vision and meet its specific needs.

Integrated with other initiatives.The myriad benefits of green infrastructure make it an excellent tool for addressing a number of challenges. Cities that break down silos and create cross-cutting green infrastructure projects are better able to garner public support, thus improving their attractiveness to diverse sources of funding. Urban farming is an excellent example; urban farms combat food deserts, provide STEM learning opportunities and contribute to ecological health.

Aligned with structural adjustments. Cities can update their policies to align with green infrastructure initiatives. This can include creating new ordinances, rewriting codes, and facilitating green infrastructure through interagency alignment. Cities committed to unpacking the historical and political background of policies will be more prepared to implement projects that deliver equitable results.

When green infrastructure initiatives have these characteristics, they have the potential to create more resilient communities by strengthening climate adaptation and social equity at the same time.

Hannah Jane Brown   Posted in Advocacy and policy

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LEED Certification

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is a non profit organization that certifies sustainable businesses, homes, hospitals, schools, and neighborhoods. USGBC is dedicated to expanding green building practices and education, and its LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Green Building Rating System™.

Chemline, Inc. is a member of The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and has the potential to provide LEED points.