Howard County Executive Calvin Ball was joined by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin to announce Howard County’s designation as a LEED Platinum community.

Howard County has been designated as a LEED Platinum community – the highest designation possible — under the United States Green Building Council’s LEED for Cities and Communities certification program, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball and other officials announced today.

The designation came after an extensive year-long review of Howard County’s environmental and sustainability programs, policies, and investments covering 40 different areas, ranging from energy and greenhouse gas emissions performance to innovation, stormwater management and housing and transportation affordability.

Howard County received the second-highest points ever awarded in the current Cities and Communities rating system, version 4.1. The only other city in the nation to receive a platinum rating is Santa Monica, Calif.

“This recognition is an acknowledgement of efforts we have undertaken to become the most sustainable community in the nation, such as dedicating ourselves to solar power, transit and electric vehicles, and building infrastructure to make walking and bike-riding easier,” Ball said in a statement. “We have held ourselves accountable; we have a road map for moving forward. And we will continue to identify new places to lead and to make positive change for all.”

Ball was joined by U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin for the announcement. Cardin said that Howard County has demonstrated that it is well-positioned to leverage important components of the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law this year, including credits for elective vehicles and funding for green jobs and environmental justice.

“Howard County’s dedication to environmental progress is remarkable, and I have fought hard to deliver several major pieces of recently passed legislation at the national level so that counties across Maryland can continue to make similarly significant strides toward their sustainability goals,” said Cardin, chair of the Subcommittee of Transportation and Infrastructure. “The recent Inflation Reduction Act includes major incentives for homeowners to expand their use of renewable energy sources, re-envisioned the EV tax credit, and will reduce U.S. carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030. This historic investment sets our country on the right path for years to come.” 

LEED was originally created for commercial and industrial buildings, and has been expanded to include homes and then whole neighborhoods.

LEED for Cities and Communities helps local leaders create and operationalize responsible, sustainable and specific plans for energy, water, waste, transportation and many other factors that contribute to quality of life. The LEED framework encompasses social, economic and environmental performance indicators and strategies with a clear, data-driven means of benchmarking and communicating progress.

“Howard County performed very well on topics as diverse as water and energy efficiency, green building, carbon neutrality, green spaces, and quality of life,” said Roger Platt, a senior vice president of the U.S. Green Building Council. “The county received every quality of life credit, from civil and human rights and environmental justice to housing affordability and civic engagement.”

Points were awarded in nine categories: energy and greenhouse gas emissions, water efficiency, materials and resources, innovation, natural systems and ecology, quality of life, regional priority, transportation and land use; and integrative process.

Howard County received the most points possible in Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance (14/14), Innovation (6/6) and Water Performance (6/6), as well as in several other areas.