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Baltimore sustainability plan guides path to LEED certification (USGBC Maryland)

Posted By Adriana Vargas, National Fenestration Rating Council, Wednesday, December 11, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Municipal leaders in Baltimore recently unveiled a sustainability plan with a framework for certification.

By Tom Herron

With growing urbanization creating new challenges, the City of Baltimore is pursuing certification in the new, expanded LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities. Seeking to establish the city as an engine of economic growth, environmental health and prosperity, municipal leaders in Baltimore recently unveiled a new sustainability plan that provides a framework for certification. City officials describe the plan as an ambitious endeavor to attain their primary goal for Baltimore’s future—creating an environment where everyone thrives.

“Certification will support the city’s efforts to track and benchmark progress on the goals established in their sustainability plan,” said Hilari Varnadore, Director of LEED for Cities and Communities at USGBC. “LEED for Cities and Communities provides a clear, data-driven approach to assessing conditions and evaluating progress across social, economic and environmental areas.”

The plan is organized around five categories: Community, Human-Made Systems, Climate and Resilience, Nature in the City, and Economy. There are 23 topics, 78 strategies and 244 action items. A few examples of actions prioritized in the plan include

Thriving through certification

For Baltimore, advancing its 2019 plan requires more than a commitment to act; it requires a commitment to be held accountable. One of the most valuable aspects of the LEED for Cities and Communities program is that data collected and reported by the city is verified, ensuring that the work they are doing is making a difference. Through certification, cities are able to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses and identify future areas for investment and improvement.

Anne Draddy, Sustainability Coordinator for the Baltimore Sustainability Office, is already taking action on this front. “We’re engaging thousands of people to better understand how they view a more sustainable and equitable city,” she said. “Prioritizing inclusive public engagement and ensuring people are heard across all of Baltimore’s neighborhoods is key to our success.”

In agreement is Amy Gilder-Busatti, Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner for the Baltimore Sustainability Office. “Every story counts, and there are lots of people here doing great work,” she concluded. “People are making a difference all across our city.”

Baltimore was one of the recipients of the 2019 Bank of America grants to assist with places seeking LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities certification, awarded by USGBC in May. Developing more sustainable cities is no longer viewed as the cost of doing business, but rather, as a catalyst for innovation, creating new markets and prosperity.

Tags:  sustainability  Tom Herron 

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