Durango has been identified by the U.S. Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design city, giving staff a new means of measuring and maintaining water consumption, energy use, waste, transportation and human experience.
The LEED designation from the Green Building Council means Durango is one of 75 cities and communities across the country recognized for management and commitment to sustainability, said Imogen Ainsworth, sustainability coordinator with the city.
The designation is both an award and a tool for the city to measure how sustainable the city is using international metrics of sustainability, Ainsworth said. These metrics measure everything from waste to wealth sustainability in a community, giving city staff insight into how it can make the city more sustainable.
The LEED designation will give the city a proverbial measuring stick to determine how Durango stacks up against international standards of sustainability. In measuring the city’s sustainability, the framework will take into account both ongoing and completed sustainability measures, Ainsworth said. Historically, the city has struggled with climate and energy, and equity and empowerment, Ainsworth said.
Durango has been measuring its sustainability based on third-party metrics since at least mid-2017, when the city was recognized for its leadership in sustainability by STAR Communities. The STAR Communities recognition gave the city its first look at how the city stacks up against other municipalities when it comes to sustainability.
It’s hard for the city to self-regulate itself when it comes to sustainability; Ainsworth is the city’s only employee dedicated to sustainability. The solo gig makes it difficult for the city to come up with standards on which it may judge sustainability, Ainsworth said. This new framework will give Ainsworth the data she needs to determine what actions would be most worthwhile to improve sustainability.
The LEED designation will be used as a tool for transparency, allowing residents to see how the city compares to international standards of sustainability online. That information is not yet available, Ainsworth said.