LEED for Cities

LEED for Cities

Where smart cities meet sustainability

The LEED for Cities certification program is revolutionizing city planning, development and operations, while also improving life for citizens around the world. Using the Arc performance platform, LEED for Cities projects can measure and manage their city’s water consumption, energy use, waste, transportation and human experience. A detailed view of citywide performance is now at your fingertips.

Who's using LEED for Cities

Cities across the globe are using LEED for Cities to communicate continuous performance.

Washington, D.C.

"It is in the best interest of Washington, DC’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. 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 DC." —Mayor of the District of Columbia, Muriel Bowser

Phoenix, Arizona

"Phoenix has earned a national reputation for its leadership on sustainability, and this prominent certification validates our incredible progress. We've set ambitious goals, and Phoenix will continue to take more steps to divert waste, increase water efficiency, and reduce carbon emissions, which benefits us, our environment and our economy." — Mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton

Arlington, Virginia

"It is truly an honor, and a validation of Arlington’s commitment to sustainability, to be the first to earn Platinum certification as a LEED community. This has been a community effort, achieved by having a vision of combating climate change and promoting energy efficiency on a local level, and putting in place innovative policies and practices to achieve it. Now, more than ever, the responsibility for progress on climate change rests with local and state governments and with the private sector." —  Arlington County Board Chair, Jay Fisette

Songodo, South Korea

"The sustainability mandates we set for Songdo IBD have always envisioned how the quality of life for our residents, workers and visitors could be enhanced by a commitment to environmentally responsible development. LEED for Communities certification will further validate Songdo's commitment to be the vanguard of smart sustainable urban transformation." — Chairman of Gale International, the co-developer of Songdo International Business District, Stan Gale

Savona, Italy

"We are proud to be recognized as Europe's first LEED city. Our commitment is toward shaping a sustainable and resilient urban environment and a safe and equitable society. We believe that LEED for Cities is the instrument to grow awareness about cities' actual performance and future outcome, and support decision makers." — Mayor of Savona, Ilaria Caprioglio

Why LEED certify your city?

LEED for Cities brings a new level of leadership to cities around the world. Use LEED for Cities to benchmark your city’s current performance, and transform your city into the place to be. Home in on the targeted metrics for a particular initiative and communicate continuous improvement; educate residents, visitors and business owners to enable continuous improvement; demonstrate your city’s commitment to sustainability, human health and economic prosperity.

Verify leadership

Track and report progress towards meeting your city’s emissions targets. By submitting greenhouse gas emissions based on energy consumption and other sources, you can also support your country in meeting its climate action goals. In addition, you’ll be able to communicate your city’s sustainability performance and goals in a consistent format that is used around the world.

Improve sustainability performance

Adopt LEED-based strategies that help to reduce energy, water, waste, pollution and CO2 at the city scale, and in turn improve air and water quality. Learn innovative strategies from a global network of projects and partners.

Stay flexible and become scalable

Start with a modest number of data streams and metrics, and ramp up as your city seeks deeper engagement. The program functions at multiple scales. Focus your efforts on an eco-district or micro grid, a neighborhood, a business improvement district, a disadvantaged area of the city, or use the program city wide. The scale is up to you.

Enhance your existing engagement

LEED for Cities aims to be an aggregator of and supplement to other important initiatives and tools including:

  • STAR Communities, ISO 37120, C40 Cities, ICLEI’s ClearPath and Heat+ tools, CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project), The Climate Registry, or the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Bring all parties to the table

LEED for Cities engages everyone, from private sector businesses and NGOs, public partners, to utilities.

  • Foundations and private sector donors want to see results but affecting change at the city scale can take time.
  • Increasingly, cities need to work with utilities on resilience and mitigation; LEED for Cities will support a new level of engagement with electric utilities, connecting them to strategies and performance metrics developed for the sector, like the PEER rating system for sustainable power systems.
  • New ways of collaborating in Arc are underway. Arc can help focus collaborative action among public and private partners, to enable cities to attract more private sector participants and private sector funding (e.g., municipal green bonds) and streamline coordination processes among stakeholders.


How it works

1. Register your city in Arc. Learn more about registration and certification fees.  

2. Precertify: Submit your project overview, goals, strategies and roadmap.

3. Apply for initial certification by submitting performance data and methodologies and receiving a score for review from GBCI.

4. Submit performance data and receive a score for on-going certification.

Learn more about LEED for Cities


Why did USGBC develop LEED for Cities?

At USGBC, we have a vision that buildings and communities will regenerate and sustain the health and vitality of all life within a generation. And we know that in order to realize a sustainable future for all, the next generation of green building must focus on the development of smart cities and resilient communities. Our cities must champion equitable, safe and healthy development policies, implement interoperable platforms and advanced technologies that improve the performance of their communities and cities, and continue to incorporate concepts like wellness and human experience into city planning, development and management.

But cities face many challenges in this day and age – citizens are demanding more transparency and information about the places where they live, work, learn and play.

LEED for Cities allows us to address these concerns on a global scale. Now more than ever, local governments are becoming laboratories of innovation and are committing to novel ways for social problem solving. Leaders, especially in growing cities, have an enormous opportunity to initiate a dynamic dialogue with citizens and earn their trust in the process. LEED for Cities is also a timely way to accelerate the great leadership now being shown by cities and demonstrate value.

What is the goal of LEED for Cities?

By looking at what LEED has done for buildings and neighborhood developments, we at USGBC asked how we bring our experience with market transformation to support cities. With LEED, the ability to synthesize many detailed performance metrics into easily understood scores to enable internal and external comparison, was key. We have been focusing on research and development: what data do cities have? What metrics capture cities’ objectives? What comparisons do cities want to make? How can we foster streamlined intra-operability among a myriad of green and resilient city programs advancing varied strategies for performance?

We saw that cities need a flexible, credible and globally consistent way to communicate continuous performance across an array of objectives and to different types of stakeholders. And, cities are seeking ways to compare and benchmark aspects of their performance to other cities, in a simple way.

Is LEED for Cities flexible?

Yes, LEED for Cities is flexible and supports your city’s goals. Cities can start with a modest number of data streams/metrics, and expand as a city seeks deeper engagement. LEED for Cities can function at multiple scales. A city might focus on an Eco-district or micro grid, a neighborhood, a disadvantaged area of the city, or citywide. A business improvement district or private developer might focus on their particular part of a community.