The U.S. Green Building Council has named Washington, D.C., as the first LEED for Cities platinum-level city in the world.
Mayor Muriel Bowser was presented with the honor by Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the council, at an event on the steps of Dunbar High School, the highest rated LEED-certified school in the United States, officials said. The mayor’s chief technology officer Archana Vemulapalli and Jay Wilson, the Department of Energy and Environment’s green building expert, joined Bowser and Ramanujam.
“It is in the best interest of Washington, D.C.’s safety, economy and future to take sustainability and resiliency seriously. And as the nation’s capital, we have a special obligation to lead the way on environmental issues,” Bowser said. “We are proud to be recognized as the world’s first LEED Platinum city. Our commitment to these issues will not yield, and we look forward to continuing to build a greener, more resilient and more sustainable D.C.”
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the most widely used green building rating system in the world and is designed to help buildings achieve high performance in key areas of human and environmental health, council officials said. LEED for Cities was launched last year and enables cities to measure and communicate performance, focusing on outcomes, such as ongoing sustainability efforts, across an array of metrics, including energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience.
LEED for Cities projects benchmark and track performance using Arc, a digital platform that uses data to provide greater transparency into sustainability efforts and helps cities make more informed decisions.
“Washington, D.C., is setting the bar for smart cities all around the world by leveraging technology and data to achieve sustainability and resiliency goals, creating healthy and safe communities where citizens can thrive,” Ramanujam said. “Mayor Bowser and the city are once again showing that our nation’s capital is performing at the highest levels and that its buildings, neighborhoods and communities are as sustainable as possible.”
As Washington looks to achieve the goals of the sustainable plan and the targets of the Paris climate accord, tracking the city’s progress is essential, officials said. As part of achieving additional goals under the Smarter D.C. initiative, Vemulapalli’s office is working to develop more open access to data, and LEED for Cities will be a valuable tool in these efforts, she said.
“Smarter D.C. is fundamentally about leveraging technology strategically to deliver a more sustainable, resilient, equitable and healthy city transparently,” Vemulapalli said. “This recognition was only attainable by working together to deliver real outcomes for the District.”
The Bowser administration also announced that Brookland Middle School has achieved LEED Platinum certification by the USGBC. The school was awarded 85 out of a possible 109 points, making Brookland Middle School the third district public schools project to achieve platinum certification and the 19th LEED-certified DCPS facility, officials said.
Over the past two years, the Bowser administration has entered into one of the largest municipal on-site solar projects in the U.S., completed the largest wind power purchase agreement deal of its kind ever entered into by an American city, and, most recently, signed a mayor’s order pledging to uphold the commitments in the Paris accord, officials said.
Today, 65 percent of district neighborhoods are walkable, 58 percent of commuter trips are by bike, walking or public transit, and the local government is 100 percent powered by renewable energy, according to the administration. The city is also on track to get at least 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources by 2032.