Sarasota County named ‘Gold’ community for sustainability and resilience

U.S. Green Building Council honors efforts implemented countywide

Solar panels have been installed on a number of county buildings. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS Extension Sarasota County

Sarasota County Government has achieved Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) “Gold” certification and national accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council, staff has announced.

Unlike the certification process for individual buildings, this designation followed an evaluation of sustainability and resilience efforts across the county, which measured “progress in land use, ecology, quality of life, energy, transportation, water resources, and other categories,” a news release explains.

“Earning LEED for Cities and Communities Gold required hard work and collaboration between departments to showcase our longstanding commitment to building a sustainable and resilient Sarasota County,” said County Commission Chair Ron Cutsinger in the release. “This means ensuring residents continue to have access to clean water, clean air, efficient buildings, green spaces, and more,” he added in the release.

“Sarasota County’s continuing growth in popularity has made the area a destination for many, while also highlighting the need to protect limited resources and foster sustainable, equitable communities that respond to change,” the release points out. “The county has implemented numerous programs and initiatives toward those goals, from energy conservation projects to water quality programs.”

The release further notes, “LEED, the world’s most widely used green building rating system, helps buildings, communities, cities, and counties by providing a road map toward high performance in key areas of social, economic, and environmental sustainability.”

The certification process was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, a nonprofit with a 30-year history “of helping shape healthy, vital built environments …” The Council assigns points in nine categories: “integrative process, natural systems and ecology, water efficiency, energy and greenhouse gas emissions, transportation and land use, materials and resources, quality of life, innovation, and regional priority,” the release notes.

“Sarasota County received 65 points out of 110 possible to earn LEED Gold certification,” the release says. It received maximum points for demonstrating achievements in Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Performance (14/14), Resilience Planning (4/4), Transportation Performance (6/6), Quality of Life Performance (6/6), and Natural Resources Conservation and Restoration (2/2), the release adds.

“A sustainable county balances social, economic, and environmental concerns in its decision-making and planning,” said Peter Templeton, president and CEO of the U.S. Green Building Council, in the release. “Sarasota County’s LEED certification is a symbol of their leadership on sustainability,” he added in the release. “A LEED community takes those plans forward as solutions that improve the overall quality of life for its residents.”

“With the LEED Gold certification, Sarasota County joins an elite but growing group” — including the City of Sarasota, which also recently was honored — to be certified using the LEED for Cities and Communities rating system, the release points out.

Anyone with questions may call 311 (941-861-5000 from outside Sarasota County) or email