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Local Leaders in Sustainability

Green Counties

Ben Franklin Elementary, AIA/COTE 2006
Top Ten Green Project award recipient.
Mahlum Architects, Kirkland, WA
Photo by: Benjamin Benschneider

American counties are walking the walk on sustainability by creating impressive green building programs across the country. Since 2003 the number of counties with green building programs has increased almost 500%, and the future looks bright for green design. Local Leaders in Sustainability: Green Counties is an analysis of the current state of green building development in the 200 most populous counties as of 2008.

The AIA worked with the National Association of Counties (NACo) to complete this project. NACo’s Green Government Initiative, of which the AIA is a founding member, provides comprehensive resources for local governments on all things green. The primary goal of this analysis is to provide a tool for communities as well as other levels of government that seek to design green building programs in the future. The states are often viewed as the laboratories of democracy, with innovative policy informing national policy. If this is true, then local governments must be the scientists. Local leaders understand the importance of their actions, and this report chronicles the expansion of green building in counties across America.

From the east coast to the west, counties face many different political, financial, and climate concerns. Every county leader, however, clearly has in common the best interest of the citizens living in their communities and the future of our country. The building sector is the greatest single contributor to carbon emissions in the United States, but this only means that it has the greatest potential for carbon reductions. County officials, politicians, architects, and others are successfully helping to lead the country toward a greener future.

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