The Climate Leadership Academy

Darchelle Strickland Love of Detroit makes a comment at the Green Boot Camp, our first Climate Leadership Academy on building energy retrofits.

The Climate Leadership Academy

Accelerating Local Action on Climate Disruption

The Climate Leadership Academy is a state-of-the-art training and technical assistance program on community-based climate solutions. Its purpose is to build the capacity of communities to take smarter, swifter, more effective action to increase energy efficiency, reduce climate pollution and dependency on fossil fuels, create green businesses and jobs, and strengthen their resilience to the local impacts of climate disruption.

The academy helps local climate and energy practitioners accomplish their climate-related goals by sharing best practices; connecting them to their peers in other cities and to leading national experts; building their capacity to access, and effectively use, available funding sources; providing them with easier access to the best available tools and resources; and facilitating collaboration with their regional, state and federal counterparts.

Climate Leadership Academy Focus Areas

ISC has hosted Climate Leadership Academies for more than 550 community leaders from more than 80 U.S. communities, cities, and metropolitan regions. We have focused on:

  • Building Energy Retrofits: How can U.S. cities improve, accelerate and scale up programs to retrofit building stock and make it more efficient? We address financing and increasing participation in retrofit programs—in both the residential and commercial sectors—and the challenges of cross-sector collaboration. Download the Resource Guide here.

  • Low-Carbon Transportation (2.0) & Transportation Efficiency (1.0): Reducing transportation-related emissions involves a range of approaches, such as developing, promoting, and scaling up climate-friendly transportation options; and using strategies that emphasize smart growth and urban development. Download version 2.0 of the Resource Guide here (or version 1.0 here).

  • Sustainable Economic Development (2.0) & Green Job Creation (1.0): We believe cities and regions can achieve both economic prosperity and environmental sustainability at the same time. We focus on solutions for creating new green jobs—and “greening” existing ones—through the integrated efforts of the business, labor, workforce development, economic development, education/training, and sustainability sectors. Download version 2.0 of the Resource Guide here (or version 1.0 here).

  • Climate Adaptation and Resilience: We help U.S. cities assess, prioritize, and confront the local impacts of global climate disruption—especially among vulnerable populations—such as strained water supplies and overtaxed drainage systems, increased air pollution, degraded ecosystems, and extreme weather events. Download the Resource Guide here.

  • Sustainable Community Development: Working with the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development's Sustainable Communities grantees, we help regional teams transform their economies; achieve social equity; and develop sustainable approaches to regional planning, transportation, and land use. Download the Resource Guide here.

  • Gulf Coast Sustainable Economies: In a region hit hard—both economically and environmentally—by several recent disasters, we work with nonprofit, business, and local government leaders to develop and implement economic development projects based on energy efficiency, renewable energy, ecological restoration, and community resilience. Download the Resource Guide here.

  • Urban Sustainability: We are helping urban sustainability practitioners institutionalize sustainability across a variety of city and county government departments, throughout their communities, and among a diversity of stakeholders. ISC developed this program in close partnership with the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), with the goal of integrating it into the USDN’s broader professional development program. Download the Resource Guide here.

International Climate Leadership Academies

Adapting the U.S. model to a Chinese context, ISC has hosted academies for more than 20 cities in the heavily industrialized Jiangsu and Guangdong provinces, focusing on low-carbon city planning, urban redevelopment, and industrial energy efficiency. The Chinese academies also include direct assistance to some of the participating cities, as well as replicable demonstration projects.

For more information about the Climate Leadership Academy, download our fact sheet or contact Steve Nicholas, ISC’s VP of Climate & Environmental Programs at or 802-229-2907.

Participating U.S. cities (to date):

Note: Because some cities have participated in several different Climate Leadership Academies, not all markers are clearly visible.