The U.S. Green Building Council, creators of the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building program, with support from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, announced a new grant program designed to recognize the sustainability and green building achievements of U.S. cities pursuing LEED for Cities certification.

Initial grant recipients include San Jose, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Phoenix, Ariz.; Atlanta, Ga.; Washington, D.C.; and Chicago, Ill. Each grant will consist of financial assistance to aid in the pursuit of LEED for Cities certification, educational resources and customized technical support.

LEED for Cities enables local governments to measure and track citywide performance by focusing on outcomes, rather than intent. Cities are evaluated across 14 key metrics, including energy, water, waste, transportation, education, health, safety and equitability. Washington, D.C., and Phoenix, Ariz., are the first cities to achieve certification through the program and earned LEED Platinum, the highest level of certification.

“A sustainable city not only focuses on the environmental footprint but also how it is working to provide a better quality of life for its residents,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, USGBC president and CEO. “LEED has been a transformative tool for buildings, and we are taking what we learned and applying it to help cities achieve a higher level of performance. LEED for Cities helps tell a sustainability story in a way that encourages a city’s citizens to be more engaged, and with the support of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, these six grant recipients are committing to delivering a more sustainable future today.”

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation previously supported the Affordable Green Neighborhoods Program, which, starting in 2010, provided assistance to eligible nonprofit and public sector developers of affordable housing to ensure that every new unit of affordable housing meets the highest standards of sustainability and offers residents the healthiest communities possible. The LEED for Cities grant program provides entire cities with the financial and educational support to improve performance over time through the pursuit of LEED for Cities certification.

“Bank of America has been a member of USGBC for 20 years. We greatly value the organization’s leadership and innovative programs –like LEED for Cities – that are focused on reducing use of critical natural resources and creating a healthier built environment,” says Alex Liftman, global environmental executive at Bank of America. “Through this program, cities where our employees work and live will help to accelerate the transition to a more sustainable, lower-carbon future. At our company, and with support from USGBC, we have introduced significant goals to reduce the environmental impacts of the bank’s operations, including becoming carbon neutral and purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. We currently have more than 18 million square feet of LEED certified workspace across our global operations, including 150 LEED certified financial centers.”  

Performance for cities is continuously tracked through Arc, the digital platform that connects all sustainability progress in one place and generates a performance score between 0 and 100. There are 25 cities participating in LEED for Cities globally.