Sarah Wright is a staff writer for The Hoya.
Washington, D.C., is now the world’s first Platinum-certified environmentally friendly city, according to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design for Cities program.
Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) and Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, announced the honor Aug. 31 at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School in Shaw, the highest-rated LEED school in the United States.
Developed by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council, LEED is an international certification program that rates buildings, homes and neighborhoods based on the environmental responsibility of their design, construction, operation and maintenance.
“We are proud to be recognized as the world’s first LEED Platinum city. Our commitment to these issues will not yield, and we look forward to continuing to build a greener, more resilient, and more sustainable D.C.,” Bowser said.
Launched last year, LEED for Cities applies the USGBC’s signature model to cities, evaluating city performance in categories such as water, waste, energy, transportation and human experience. To receive designation as LEED Platinum, cities must create sustainability goals and submit data for the USGBC to track over time.
The Bowser administration has made environmental sustainability a priority in the District, renewing the city’s commitment to the Paris climate agreement following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the global agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve energy efficiency.
The administration has also developed Climate Ready D.C., an arm of the greater Sustainable D.C. planning project aimed at making the District the most healthy, green and livable city in the United States.
According to the USGBC, D.C. has the most LEED-certified buildings per capita in the United States at 29.04 square feet of LEED space per resident.
“It is in the best interest of Washington, D.C.’s safety, economy, and future to take sustainability and resiliency seriously, and as the nation’s capital, we have a special obligation to lead the way on environmental issues,” Bowser said.
Georgetown University shares a similar commitment to sustainability and seeks to achieve LEED Gold certification for every new building and renovation, according to Office of Sustainability Director Audrey Stewart.
“Georgetown takes an integrated and holistic approach to sustainability, placing value on a ‘quadruple’ bottom line: people, planet, prosperity, and purpose, guided by our Catholic and Jesuit values and our commitment to the common good,” Stewart wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Georgetown currently has eight on-campus LEED-certified buildings including Pedro Arrupe, S.J. Hall and the John R. Thompson Jr. Intercollegiate Athletics Center, totaling 1 million square feet of LEED space.
Gaia Mattiace (COL ’18), Core Pathways fellow and former president of Georgetown Renewable Energy and Environmental Network, reiterated the importance of LEED certification to achieving both on-campus and District-wide sustainability goals.
“D.C. becoming the first LEED Platinum city provides us, and the university at-large, with even greater inspiration to pursue more sustainability, energy efficiency, and water conservation projects on campus,” Mattiace wrote in an email to The Hoya. “D.C.’s LEED certification is truly a testament to how we, as a community, are moving more and more towards recognizing the challenges of climate change, pollution, and environmental degradation, as well as the need to rise to the occasion and to make a positive and much needed change.”