Creating a higher standard of living through LEED for Cities and Communities

Sonja Trierweiler

How do you ensure a new industrial city that is half the size of Disney World and expected to have a population of 140,000 people, is sustainable, high-performing and generates positive health outcomes for its inhabitants?

Enter the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Cities and Communities rating system. The King Salman Energy Park (SPARK) is a new megaproject being developed by Saudi Aramco in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that has just achieved LEED for Cities precertification. This rating system helps cities and communities to develop responsible, sustainable and specific plans for natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors that contribute to quality of life. By achieving precertification under LEED v4.1 for Cities and Communities: Plan and Design ahead of full certification — the first industrial city in the world to do so — the project will share key project details and planning initiatives throughout the development process.

SPARK has been designed for efficient and sustainable operations in an integrated world-class energy hub. SPARK will be a fully integrated city. It is master planned to seamlessly intertwine an industrial area, dry port and logistics zone, with vibrant residential, educational, and commercial areas.By using an integrative planning and design process, sustainability is embedded in its development from the very first planning phases all the way through completion and management of the project.

To achieve this certification, the city will prioritize green space, light pollution reduction, resilience, access to quality transit, access to clean drinking water and sanitation services, stormwater and wastewater management, economic growth, social infrastructure and more. 

In addition, SPARK has committed to provide upcoming projects in the planned city with accelerated review of their projects if they’re seeking LEED certification. Integrated sustainability measures like this allow for even more positive outcomes for the environment and people.

From Cedar Rapids, Iowa to the Beijing Daxing International Airport, 100 cities and communities around the globe have certified through LEED. That’s what makes this rating system unique — it is comprehensive enough to cover a wide range of sustainability metrics, like carbon, energy, waste and water, while also considering important quality of life metrics, including education, equity, health and safety.

Ultimately, when our communities and cities are able to reach stringent sustainability standards and continue to perform, it ensures a healthier, safer and more comfortable experience for citizens and moves the needle toward a higher standard of living for people all around the world. The 100 cities and communities that have been certified under the LEED for Cities and Communities rating system — and the more than 60 who are currently pursuing certification or have precertified — represent more than 65 million people.

On November 19 at Greenbuild Atlanta, USGBC awarded SPARK’s LEED for Cities precertification during the LEED for Cities reception that was attended by a Saudi Aramco representative.

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