Amesbury named to LEED program, a green feather in its cap | News

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AMESBURY — The city has become the only New England municipality to be accepted into the 2022 Sustainability & Equity Accelerator through the LEED for Cities Local Government Leadership Program.

The LEED for Cities Local Government Leadership Program helps local governments committed to reducing climate change and advancing resiliency and social equity by measuring and tracking performance and providing a framework to address energy, waste, water, pollution and carbon. LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

Amesbury joins 14 other U.S. cities including: Cape Canaveral, Florida; Reno, Nevada; Columbia, South Carolina; Dayton, Ohio; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Ithaca, New York; and Oakland County, Michigan, in being named a national cohort in this year’s Sustainability & Equity Accelerator.

Community and Economic Development Director Angela Cleveland said the group of 15 cities represent a population of over 3 million, ranging from 5,200 in La Crescent, Minnesota, to 1.27 million in Oakland County, Michigan.

The group also represents a land size of Delaware with an average median household income of $65,000, Cleveland said.

The U.S. Green Building Council created the LEED green building rating system and partnered with Bank of America to launch the local government leadership program in 2017.

The LEED rating system takes into account social and economic indicators such as health, equity, education and prosperity.

The LEED for Cities Local Government Leadership Program provides peer-to-peer networking opportunities, access to educational resources, technical assistance, and waived membership registration and certification fees to support cohorts working toward LEED certification.

As a Sustainability & Equity Accelerator cohort, Amesbury will receive a one-year, silver-level U.S. Green Building Council membership; access to a virtual orientation program; public relations and marketing assistance; and access to green building policy and advocacy support, among other things.

Cleveland said the city will be meeting with the other 14 cities via phone calls and web conferencing on a monthly basis and the city will also work one-on-one with a U.S. Green Building Council staff liaison.

“That person is going to help us identify where we currently are in achieving sustainability,” she said.

Amesbury will also be looking at its priorities, policies, programs and any planning work it may need to do to achieve final LEED certification.

The city will perform an equity scan to see where it stands on equity policies and programs and will also be looking into environmental concerns, such as floodplains and collecting a greenhouse gas emissions inventory.

“There will be a lot more knowledge and information gathering and information first,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland cited the city’s replacement of all of its street lights with light emitting diodes in 2020 as a past initiative that the LEED program could help to inform more Amesbury residents of. She also pointed out that Brewery Silvaticus and BareWolf Brewing recycle all of their grains to local farms.

“We are looking into where we can celebrate those things that we are already doing to achieve a more sustainable community and then asking what we can do to do more,” she said.

The city will also explore what residents can do in their everyday lives to encourage sustainability.

Amesbury’s largest greenhouse gas emissions category will ultimately be its buildings and homes, according to Cleveland, who also said residents will eventually be encouraged to reduce energy at home, while also reducing car trips.

“It is the same thing for businesses, they can use more sustainable wares and look at turning off lights and producing energy through equipment,” she said. “There are so many different things. They could be big asks or little bite-size asks.”

The program will run for the next year and the city will also take an inventory of sustainability practices it can take part in and encourage.

Mayor Kassandra Gove said in a press release that the city is committed to planning for equity and sustainability for the long term, as demonstrated by the creation of the Equity & Inclusion Design Team and I AMesbury 2030 master planning initiative.

“I’m thrilled that Amesbury will be able to learn from communities across the country in this cohort, and share our own success stories as well. I’m proud of the work our team does every day, and I know that this program will help us learn and grow for the betterment of our entire community,” she said.

U.S. Green Building Council CEO Peter Templeton also voiced his enthusiasm in a statement.

“Local governments have the ability to make a big impact and serve as an example of sustainability achievement. This year’s cohort of cities and counties are looking to create responsible, sustainable plans for natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors,” he said.

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