Social Equity in the Built Environment
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:
- Housing types and affordability
- Visitability and universal design
- Design for Accessibility
- Community outreach and involvement
- Green training for contractors, trades, operators and service workers
- Prevention through Design
- Local food production
- Integrative Process for Health Promotion
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.
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.
Dahlia Campus for Health and Well-Being Social Equity Case Study. Learn more about this project on their website and in this video
Explore more by filtering for "Green" and "Case Study" here
Consider these on-demand educational courses from USGBC's Education @USGBC online platform:
- Case Study: Social Equity in the Built Environment
- Energy Democracy: Advancing Equity in Clean Energy Solutions
- The Well-Tempered Community
- Diversifying Urban Design
- Breaking Barriers: Social Equity within the Supply Chain
- Life Cycle Safety: Basics and Connections to Sustainability
- Virtual tour of the Habitat for Humanity LEED Platinum Zero Energy Depot Neighborhood
- Building a Green Veterans network
- Fair Play: Social Equity Within The Project Team
- The New Work Force and Why Sustainability is Important to Them
- Understanding EcoDistricts
- LEED Pilot Credit Prevention through Design (PtD) Background & Requirements
For additional educational opportunities, visit Education @USGBC and search “equity”.
External online courses:
- Social Equity Gets Real
- Women in Green: Expanding Diversity for Design in the Climate Change Era
- Urban Agriculture and Community Food Systems
- Roots of Success.
- Relocating Residents (Spanish version)
- Deconstructing Consumerism (Spanish version)
- A Vanishing Island here.
- Sustainable Cities: Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Design examines what sustainability means in an urban context and how to create nature-based solutions to solve urban challenges.
- Air Quality Index reflects upon how student can take to help alleviate air pollution. Spanish version is here.
- Equity Metrics Program (Haas Institute)
- Inclusion by Design: Equality, Diversity and the Built Environment (United Kingdom Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment)
- Building for People: Integrating Social Justice into Green Design (BuildingGreen)
- Louisiana Speaks Regional Plan (Center for Planning Excellence)
- World Bank Urban Sustainability Framework
- STAR Communities Equity & Empowerment Evaluation Measures
- Living Building Challenge Equity Petal
- Green Star Rating Tool Socio-Economic Category Pilot (Green Building Council South Africa)
- Priming the Pump: Lactation Room Design Guidelines (Architect Magazine, AIA)
- Guidance for U.S. EPA EJSCREEN Tool
- The Little Book of Design Research Ethics (IDEO)
- Equitable Development Toolkit (PolicyLink)
- Beyond Diversity - A Roadmap to Building an Inclusive Organization (Green 2.0)
- SEED Network Tools
- Responsible Business Conduct: Supply Chain Best Practices (U.S. General Services Administration)
- Public Interest Design Institute
- Community Tool Box Toolkits
- Opportunity360 Toolkit (Enterprise Community Partners)
- Building Healthy Places Toolkit: Strategies for Enhancing Health in the Built Environment (Urban Land Institute)
Making the Case
- Planning for Equitable Development: Social Equity by Design
- Environmental Justice Professional Practice Network
- Design Justice Platform & Resources
- Green Health Partnership
- Social Equity in the Built Environment
- LEED v4 Impact Category and Point Allocation Process Overview
- Architects Need to be Thinking About Social Equity: Here's Why
- Do Architects Have a Social Responsibility?
- Social Responsibility: How Does it Relate to Architects and Firms
- Green Building Information Gateway: Social Equity Channel
- Social value in new development: An introductory guide for local authorities and development teams
Education & Awareness
- Built Environment – Social Equity
- Social Housing in the US – Peoples Policy Project 2018
- What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap
- Accessible and Sustainable
- Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform
- Universal Rights Index
- Black Lives Matter Project
- Missing 32% Project - Where are the Women Architects?
- The Road to Resilience
- International Living Future Institute Online Learning
- American Institute of Certified Planners Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct
- National Organization of Minority Architects
- The American Institute of Architects: Social Impact Channel
- 11th Street Bridge Project
- 500 Cities: Local Data for Better Health
- American Public Health Association: Health Equity Channel
- Disparities in Risk
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.