California Policy Corner: California cities take the lead with new certifications | U.S. Green Building Council
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See the latest in California policy and advocacy news.

The next generation of green building must focus on the development of smart cities and resilient communities. The LEED for Cities and Communities rating system provides a framework for sustainable planning, designing, measuring and managing of performance. Since the first version launched in 2016, five cities or communities in California have achieved certification.

Last year, San José became California’s first LEED-certified city, receiving the highest distinction, LEED Platinum. This achievement recognizes several prominent sustainability initiatives, including:

San Diego County achieved LEED Platinum certification in 2018 using the LEED for Communities rating system. The county also boasts a robust Climate Action Plan, with an emphasis on reducing greenhouse gas emissions through

  • Energy- and water-efficient buildings.
  • Clean and renewable energy.
  • Transportation strategies that aim to reduce vehicle miles travelled, improve mobility and enhance fuel efficiency.
  • Solid waste management, including 100 percent landfill diversion by 2040.
  • Programs, policies and processes that increase climate resiliency.

Most recently, in May it was announced that Rancho Cucamonga is one of 15 cities from across the country selected to participate in the 2019 LEED for Cities and Communities grant program funded by the Bank of America Charitable Foundation.

Rancho Cucamonga will strive to join the more than 90 other cities and communities worldwide—which, in addition to San Jose and San Diego County, also include El Cerrito, Goleta and Riverside—that have achieved LEED for Cities and Communities certifications. Over the course of the next six months, Rancho Cucamonga, aided by USGBC resources, will begin to align its existing programs, policies and plans with the rating system.

Rancho Cucamonga will be one of the first cities to seek certification under LEED v4.1. The new version of the rating system expands solutions for cities and communities, dividing project types into two categories: those in the planning and design phase and those already in existence.

Among the new credits attainable in LEED v4.1 is the opportunity for cities in either category to earn two points for implementing green building policies and incentives. These can come in the form of structural incentives, such as expedited permitting or density bonuses, or financial incentives, such as tax credits or permitting fee waivers.

Learn more about registering your city or community for LEED v4.1