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Social Equity in the Built Environment

Resources to extend the benefits of green building to all.

LEED Credits

LEED explicitly promotes socially-responsible practices by means of its Social Equity Pilot Credits, developed by the LEED Social Equity Working Group. The pilot credits are designed to address social equity from the perspective of everyone who is touched or impacted by a building—including.

Social Equity within the Community

This credit encourages a project team to address identified needs and disparities in the community surrounding the project. It outlines a process of engagement with communities and allows certification through established frameworks such as the SEED Evaluator.

Social Equity within the Project Team.

This credit encourages a project’s owners, financiers, architects, engineers and contractors to incorporate social equity into their daily activities by paying prevailing wages, providing workforce development or demonstrating corporate social responsibility.

Social Equity within the Supply Chain

This credit encourages social equity for those involved in the production of materials and products for our buildings, rewarding the establishment of supplier assessments and Supplier Codes of Conduct that address basic human rights.

These pilot credits now feature the option to submit a project-specific Alternative Compliance Path (ACP). The ACP approach allows more varied types of social actions to be considered and rewarded, such as:

The LEED Project Team Checklist for Social Impact offers a framework to help identify social and economic considerations to determine effective strategies for enhanced social impact. (Have feedback? Let us know)

Have questions about the LEED social equity pilot credits? reach out to Karema Seliem

Green Building for All

The Advance Campaign helps community-based organizations discover effective green building strategies that align with their goals. The Advance Campaign for Social Equity Toolkit tells you what you need to know to get started.

Many USGBC communities and partners have implemented the Advance Campaign:

The Center for Green Schools works to bring sustainability to life in the classroom and encourages communities to work together toward a future that is healthier for people and the planet.

Project Haiti: The William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center. When the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 left hundreds of thousands of children in need of care, the combined efforts of USGBC and partners lead to the grand opening of the William Jefferson Clinton Children's Center.

Case Studies

A few LEED certified buildings and other innovative projects around the world are already leading the way, demonstrating the value of inclusive and equitable green building practices. Here we explore examples and point to additional case study collections.

WSU Elson Floyd Cultural Center Social Equity Case Study

Town Hall Apartments Social Equity Case Study

Softtek Social Equity Case Study

Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being Social Equity Case Study. Learn more about this project on their website and in this video

The Mariposa Healthy Living Initiative

The Mariposa Health Living Tool


Enterprise Green Communities

Explore more by filtering for "Green" and "Case Study" here


Consider these on-demand educational courses from USGBC's Education @USGBC online platform:

For additional educational opportunities, visit Education @USGBC and search “equity”.

External online courses:

Learning lab:


How-To Resources

Making the Case

Education & Awareness

LEED Social Equity Working Group* Reading & Watch List

  • Editors. Why Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Matter. Metropolis, 2018.
  • Fullilove, Mindy. Urban Alchemy: Restoring Joy in America's Sorted-Out Cities. New Village Press, 2013.
  • Fullilove, Mindy. Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It. One World/Ballantine, 2005.
  • Greenbuild 2016 Master Series - F15: We need to Talk about Wellness and Sustainability
  • Why You Should Learn about the City you Live In - TED Talk
  • Greening the Ghetto - TED Talk
  • Freeman, Lance. There Goes the ‘Hood: Views of Gentrification from the Ground Up. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2006.
  • Arnold, Craig Anthony. Fair and Healthy Land Use: Environmental Justice and Planning. American Planning Association, 2007.
  • Wilkins, Craig. The Aesthetics of Equity: notes on race, space, architecture and music. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007.
  • Kaplan, Victoria. Structural Inequality: Black Architects in the United States. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 2006.
  • Mitchell, Melvin. The Crisis of the African-American Architect: Conflicting Cultures of Architecture and (Black) Power. iUniverse, Incorporated, 2002.
  • Urban Planning and the African-American Community, by June Manning Thomas, 1997
  • Thomas, June Manning. Revelopment and Race: Planning a Finer City in Postwar Detroit. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
  • Etienne, Harley F. and Barbara Faga. Planning Atlanta. Routledge, 2015.
  • Bullard, Robert. The Black Metropolis in the 21st Century: Race, Power, and the Politics of Place. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2007.
  • Bullard, Robert. Growing Smarter: Achieving Livable Communities, Environmental Justice, and Regional Equity. Boston: The MIT Press, 2007.
  • Agyeman, Julian, Robert D. Bullard and Bob Evans. Just Sustainabilities: Development in an Unequal World. Boston: The MIT Press, 2003.
  • Harvey, David. Social Justice and the City. University of Georgia Press, 2009.
  • Dubois, W.E.B. The Philadelphia Negro. 1896.
  • Klinenberg, Eric. Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2003.
  • Dwyer-Lindgren L, Bertozzi-Villa A, Stubbs RW, et al. Inequalities in life expectancy among US counties, 1980 to 2014. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2017; online: E1-E9.
  • Dwyer-Lindgren L, Bertozzi-Villa A, Stubbs RW, et al. US county-level trends in mortality rates for major causes of death, 1980-2014 . Journal of the American Medical Association. 2016;316(22):2385-2401.
  • Hood, Carlyn M. MPA MPH, Gennuso KPP, Swain, Geoffrey R. MD MPH, Catlin, Bridget B. PhD MHSA. County health rankings: Relationships between determinant factors and health outcomes. American Journal of Preventative Medicine. 2015; 20(2): 129–135.

*Learn more about the Social Equity Working Group.