The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), an authority on green building and the global developer of the LEED green building program, has announced the 2024 cohort of cities selected to participate in its LEED for Cities Local Government Leadership Program. There are five Florida cities included:

  • Boca Raton
  • Coral Springs
  • Gainesville
  • Jacksonville
  • St. Petersburg.

The program helps local governments set goals, collect data and validate performance against sustainability and quality-of-life metrics using the LEED for Cities rating system. It changes the way cities and communities are planned, developed and operated to improve their overall sustainability and quality of life.

“Our selection for this program advances Coral Springs’ commitment to transparent, data-driven decision making,” said Andrea Lemaitre, Coral Springs Sustainability Manager. “The LEED for Cities Certification will highlight our progress as a sustainable community, benchmark our work with other communities across the state and country, and provide a comprehensive report with which to advance future endeavors.” 

LEED for Cities and Communities is a key component of regional climate action plans. Participants evaluate access to green spaces, public health indicators, climate action and resilience, and environmental justice.

Through the LEED for Cities program, more than 100 local governments have validated processes on sustainability, resilience and equity goals. The program attracts diverse participants – from local governments using the framework to engage stakeholders and initiate plans to those seeking recognition for their accomplishments against established goals.

The program provides peer-to-peer networking opportunities, technical assistance and access to educational resources. It covers fees for USGBC membership, registration and certification reviews for participating governments.

Gainesville Chief Climate Officer Dan Zhu said, “Embracing sustainability is not just about enhancing our surroundings; it’s about setting a standard for the future. As we join the LEED for Cities Leadership Program, we are not merely aiming for certification but for a transformation that embeds resilience and quality of life into the very core of our community.”

In addition to the national leadership cohort, the Local Government Leadership Program includes regional leadership summits intended to deepen engagement with local governments on green building and sustainable development topics. It has also established LEED for Cities Accelerators to assist local governments new to LEED for Cities with collecting data, benchmarking sustainability performance and navigating the certification program.

Cities and counties are at the forefront of climate change and bear the brunt of preparing for and adapting to more extreme weather events. To support local governments, the federal government has provided funding opportunities through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to help localities with their resilience planning. Because the Local Government Leadership Program helps officials organize their environmental data, localities that have participated in the LEED for Cities and Communities program have successfully won grants and funding to support their work. Certification helps local governments achieve meaningful results, such as attracting economic activity, reaching global climate goals, improving air and water quality and enhancing quality of life.