The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), creators of the Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) green building program, announced a new $500,000 grant from Bank of America. The funding supports the LEED certification of 15 U.S. cities and communities. The grant provides financial assistance, educational resources and technical support throughout the certification process. USGBC and Bank of America launched the LEED for Cities and Communities grant program with six U.S. cities in 2018.

“To realize a sustainable future for all, today’s cities and communities must strive to be green, resilient, inclusive and smart,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “The LEED for Cities and Communities certification programs give leaders a framework for planning, designing, measuring and managing the social, economic and environmental performance of the places where they live, work, learn and play. With support from Bank of America, we will empower these grant recipients to deliver a higher living standard for their residents.”

LEED is the world’s most widely used green building rating system, and earlier this year, USGBC released the newest version of the program, LEED v4.1. The U.S. cities and communities that will benefit from the 2019 grants are the first to pursue LEED v4.1 certification and include:

  • Albuquerque, N.M.
  • Baltimore, Md.
  • Birmingham, Ala.
  • Bloomington, Ind.
  • Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Greensboro, N.C.
  • Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Miami, Fla.
  • Orange County, N.Y.
  • Orlando, Fla.
  • Pueblo County, Colo.
  • Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.
  • Royal Oak, Mich.
  • Santa Fe, N.M.
  • Shaker Heights, Ohio

LEED helps local governments develop and track plans for a wide variety of factors, including green infrastructure, public health, energy, social equity, transportation and more. More than 90 cities and communities globally have already been certified through the LEED for Cities and Communities programs.

Bank of America is a longtime member of USGBC and has pursued LEED certification for its own operations. Presently, the company has 19 million square feet of LEED-certified workspace, including more than 200 LEED-certified financial centers.

“USGBC is a leader in creating more environmentally sustainable buildings, cities and communities,” said Alex Liftman, Global Environmental executive at Bank of America. “Our deployment of capital is helping to create thriving communities for the future that are resilient and more sustainable places to work and live.”

The bank previously supported USGBC’s Affordable Green Neighborhoods Program, which 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. In total, Bank of America has provided $2.5 million in grants to USGBC since 2011.

The work with USGBC is part of Bank of America’s broader commitment to environmental sustainability. The company has committed to carbon neutrality and purchasing 100 percent renewable electricity by 2020. In addition, it has committed to reduce location-based greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 50 percent, energy use by 40 percent, and water use by 45 percent by 2020. Bank of America has also deployed more than $126 billion over the past 12 years in support of environmental business efforts, and it recently announced it will mobilize an additional $300 billion in capital starting next year to support more sustainable business activities. This is its third environmental business commitment as part of its broader Environmental Business Initiative. The bank will meet its current commitment of $125 billion by the end of 2019, six years ahead of schedule.