Striving for environmentally sound practices, Issaquah has become the first city in Washington state to achieve LEED Gold certification. It’s a rare honor, as only around 30 cities worldwide have earned this recognition for their environmental practices.
LEED stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It’s the U.S. Green Building certification program, and has several levels of recognition. Bellevue, Seattle, Tacoma and King County have all been LEED certified, but it’s a designation lower than Gold, indicating less rigorous standards.
LEED for Cities aims to help city leadership create sustainable plans for city management, including energy use, waste management, transportation, and natural systems. The goal is a more sustainable way of living, and a higher quality of life for all residents.
Issaquah was one of 15 cities in the U.S. selected to participate in the LEED for Cities program. This meant the city received technical support, trainings, and had their certification costs covered.
Some of the steps taken by the city included switching park maintenance equipment to electric power, integrating climate action into Issaquah’s updated city planning, and striving to decarbonize municipal buildings. The city was recognized for its innovative efforts, including banning single-use plastic bags and taking measures to preserve urban forests. The city’s Creative District was also acknowledged for its art and culture offerings to the community.
Overall, city leadership noted that although they only began pursuing certification in spring of 2022, it’s really been a decades-long process led by the community itself, thanks to residents’ commitment to sustainable practices over the years.
Because of the certification process, the city’s Office of Sustainability has identified new projects, including an ecosystem assessment, that will guide their environmental efforts in the future.