Nicholas Miller

The City of Lancaster’s sustainability planner, Douglas Smith, has announced Lancaster’s move toward becoming an environmentally friendly city through pursuing a LEED for Cities certification.

Lancaster has set a precedent, as they are the first in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to do so. LEED for Cities demonstrates a city’s commitment to sustainability and quality of life for its citizens. Neighborhoods, towns or counties can also apply for certification under the LEED for Communities program.

“You cannot manage what you don’t measure, and the City of Lancaster is serious about managing its resources thoughtfully and sustainably," commented Smith. "LEED for Cities provides Lancaster a central place to be tracking its sustainability performance and sharing it with others, while also serving as a recognition program for successes.”

As with LEED for buildings, the ability to synthesize detailed information into easily understood scores, and to enable internal and external comparison, was key, so USGBC is doing the same with LEED for Cities via the online tool Arc.

Arc measures performance in categories of energy, water, waste, transportation and human experience. Human experience is then broken down into subcategories of its own, which include population with high school and bachelor’s degrees, median household income, the unemployment rate and more. These categories are then scored via Arc and used to provide a city with its LEED rating, from Certified to Platinum. Arc makes it easy for a city to measure all of its data in one place, as Lancaster has found out.

“Arc has helped the city put all of its critical sustainability metrics in one place, whereas they were scattered across various documents before," said Smith. "Arc has been very easy to use so far. We are also looking forward to exploring Arc’s ability to create custom data sets. Having everything in one place would be very convenient. The energy use from our city facilities and the community at large is aggregated in our CO2 per person, per year metric,” he explained.

In August 2017, Washington, D.C., became the first city to receive a LEED for Cities certification, with Phoenix following and Arlington County, Virginia, achieving certification under LEED for Communities. Lancaster hopes to join these cities and many others that are trying to demonstrate commitment to meeting their climate change goals.

In fact, Lancaster has been working toward sustainability and effective resource management for some time. “Over the last two years, Lancaster City has been establishing various benchmarks to evaluate its effectiveness at managing resources. This has included tracking energy use (electricity, natural gas and fuel oil), inventorying greenhouse gas emissions for the community and city operations and monitoring water use," said Smith.

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