Green Communities Program

Encouraging Local Governments To Reduce Their Environmental Footprint

The Green Communities Program is a voluntary sustainability certification program that helps local governments reduce their environmental impact through actionable measures. The program fosters a greener, healthier and more livable region by providing a framework for cities and counties on their sustainability journeys. Some examples include:

  • Reducing energy and water use in municipal operations through buildings, fleets and practices
  • Engaging with solid waste contractors to provide curbside recycling to residents and businesses
  • Providing public education and examples of new and emerging sustainability practices, like rooftop solar and green infrastructure.

ARC strives to assist local governments in decreasing operational carbon emissions through building portfolio efficiency and clean energy opportunities. If you or your local government is interested in improving your building portfolio’s energy performance, please reach out to us. To further support this work, ARC is currently seeking federal funding for a regional clean electricity plan for local governments in metro Atlanta. If funded, we will be proactively reaching out to interested local governments and engaging in a stakeholder process.

Certified Green Communities

In metro Atlanta, 17 local governments – 11 cities and six counties – are currently certified under the Green Communities program. See what measures each has earned credit for here.

In 2021, the cities of Norcross, Roswell, Woodstock, Douglasville, and Milton; and Cobb, DeKalb and Douglas counties all recertified as Green Communities. Read more on what earned them recognition here.

Program Categories

  • Green Building
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Green Power
  • Water Use Reduction and Efficiency
  • Trees and Greenspace
  • Transportation
  • Recycling and Waste Reduction
  • Land Use
  • Education
  • Innovation

Certification Levels

  • Platinum: 330 – 435 points
  • Gold: 280 – 329 points
  • Silver: 230 – 279 points
  • Bronze: 175 – 229 points

How to Apply

Local governments are encouraged to contact ARC’s Natural Resources Group at least six months prior to submitting an application. The following documents explain the certification review and application process:

Green Communities Manual and Application Package

Application timeline for 2023 certifications:

  • Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2023 via OneDrive.
  • Applications will be reviewed by ARC staff June through August.
  • Site visits take place September through October.
  • Communities are alerted of the final decisions in November.
  • Certified Green Communities announced in January 2024.

Educational Resources (includes green tip sheets and links to national and local resources).

Benefits of Green Community Certification

  • Fosters civic pride
  • Creates a positive image of a place to live or conduct business
  • Sets an example for business and organizations seeking to reduce their environmental impact
  • Leads to greater quality of life

Green Communities Story Map

This map highlights just some of the green initiatives that certified Green Communities have implemented to lighten their environmental footprints. Many of these exemplify ways anyone can go green — at home and in the workplace.