The City of Santa Monica has announced its achievement of Platinum certification under the LEED for Cities program. LEED was created by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. With LEED for Cities, local governments, like Santa Monica, are demonstrating leadership and accountability through certification at the city-scale.

The City of Santa Monica achieved LEED Platinum certification for implementing practical and measurable strategies and solutions aimed at improving sustainability and the standard of living for Santa Monica residents. LEED for Cities evaluated the City of Santa Monica’s performance on energy, water, waste, transportation, education, health, safety, prosperity, and equitability outcomes.

“For more than 25 years we have been using the power of community to enhance our resources, prevent harm to the natural environment and human health, and benefit the social and economic well-being of the community for the sake of current and future generations,” said Shannon Parry, the City’s Chief Sustainability Officer. “This recognition is an acknowledgment of those efforts and an invitation to celebrate our successes. It is also an opportunity to look forward and identify new places to lead and to make positive change with and for our community.”

Santa Monica is the very first city to achieve Platinum level certification in LEED for Cities Version 4.1 by achieving more than 80 points. Here are highlights of how we got there:

Santa Monica received high scores in the Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions category for reducing emissions 60% below 1990 levels. Santa Monica’s carbon emissions have largely been reduced since joining the Clean Power Alliance and providing 100% renewable energy to 94 percent of properties in Santa Monica.  

Highlights from the Natural Systems and Ecology category include our work on an ecosystem health assessment and the distribution of green and natural spaces in our community.

Santa Monica received high points in Transportation and Land Use for our smart transportation programs, residents’ access to transit, and the overall distribution of public amenities.

Santa Monica received points for every credit in the Quality of Life category with outcomes associated with education attainment, civic participation, and community engagement standing out.

Santa Monica received the full 10 points available in the Innovation and Regional Priorities categories; our work on the Sustainability Rights Ordinance; disposable food service ware ordinance; Zero Emissions Delivery Zone; and Exposition Light Rail Project are examples of initiatives that received credit.

“The City of Santa Monica’s LEED certification demonstrates tremendous sustainability and climate leadership,” said Peter Templeton, President and CEO, USGBC. “LEED for Cities was created to help improve our living standard and ensure every citizen has access to healthy, green and high performing places and spaces. Cities and communities that achieve LEED certification develop responsible, sustainable, and specific plans for green energy, water, waste, transportation, and many other factors that contribute to quality of life, such as equity, education, resilience, infrastructure and more. Santa Monica is a prime example of how innovative planning and collaboration can help achieve sustainability and resilience goals.”

Santa Monica is the 21st local government to certify in LEED for Cities Version 4.1 and is part of a growing group of more than 250 cities and communities to engage in USGBC’s LEED for Cities and Communities program.

In addition to LEED for Cities Platinum certification, the City of Santa Monica was also recently recognized as an A List City by CDP as one of 95 cities across the globe that is taking bold leadership on environmental action and transparency. Designed to encourage and support cities to ramp up their climate action and ambition, CDP’s Cities A List is based on environmental data disclosed by cities to the CDP-ICLEI Unified Reporting System.

To score an A, a city must disclose publicly and have a city-wide emissions inventory, have set an emissions reduction target and a renewable energy target for the future and have published a climate action plan. It must also complete a climate risk and vulnerability assessment and have a climate adaptation plan to demonstrate how it will tackle climate hazards. Many A-List cities are also taking a variety of other leadership actions, including political commitment from a city’s mayor to tackle climate change.

Santa Monica has demonstrated climate leadership by implementing decarbonization strategies and policies that advance the electrification of buildings and vehicles and provide 100% renewable energy to Santa Monica residents and businesses.  

Constance Farrell, Santa Monica Public Information Officer