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Dayton receives international distinction for its sustainability efforts

Three men and three women, all wearing dark suits and white shirts, stand in a row in front of a large window, with the man in the middle holding a framed certificate.
Adriana Martinez-Smiley
City officials hold their LEED certificate

The city of Dayton received recognition Monday for its sustainability work — making it the only city in Ohio and one of only four globally to earn that status.

The U.S. Green Buildings Council designated Dayton as a LEED city with a platinum rating, part of the council's sustainability certification.

It's one of only four jurisdictions globally to receive a platinum rating under the most up-to-date parameters, according to the buildings council.

Cities seeking certification are assessed in multiple areas such as planning around natural systems, energy, water, waste, transportation and more.

Five cities in the state of Ohio received LEED certification, said Meg Maloney, sustainability manager for the city of Dayton. The buildings council said 130 cities have been certified internationally under this current rating system.

The city started the application process in 2021. Its application highlighted its renewable energy program for residents, protection of local aquifers and tree plantings, according to Maloney.

The certification invites other cities to look at the work we're doing and see how maybe they can replicate it in their city,” she said.

Some local organizations that were invited to the news conference announcing the designation on Monday included the University of Dayton, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and more.

Multiple community partners came to the conference the city held on Monday
Adriana Martinez-Smiley
Multiple community partners came to the conference the city held on Monday

“Being able to recognize our partners and celebrate them in that space is something that I also really wanted to do, to thank everyone for the good work. Just to take that moment of pause before we all put our heads down again and keep working on our various sustainability goals,” Maloney said.

The city’s been working toward this achievement for a long time, Dayton City Commissioner Matt Joseph said.

“We've set high goals for ourselves,” Joseph said. “We're not a rich city. We've gotten things done in such a way that it hasn't fallen on the back of people that couldn't afford it.”

The application also identified areas for improvement, Maloney said, such as the energy and transportation sectors in the city. Next steps include drafting the city’s decarbonization plan. The hope is to be carbon neutral by 2050.

“We’re trying to show people in part through this application that Dayton isn’t still stuck in the Rust Belt era,” Maloney said. “We're moving on to the long term strategies the city has been putting in place by showing that we're in this next era for the region.”

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905