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Illinois Tops List of States In New LEED Ranking

Exterior rendering of the James B. Hunt Library at North Carolina State University
The James B. Hunt Library at North Carolina State University was among the first on campus to be awarded a silver-level certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Such efforts earned North Carolina its first-ever ranking in the annual Top 10 States for LEED Green Buildings list produced by the U.S Green Building Council. Marc Hall, NC State University

Nearly 60 percent of all the square footage in the United States that was certified in the LEED program in 2013 came from a small group of states.

March 4, 2014—The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), with headquarters in Washington, D.C., recently released its 2013 Top 10 States for LEED Green Buildings, an annual list of states with the most new square footage per capita that has been certified in its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Illinois tops the 2013 list with 2.29 sq ft per capita, or 29,415,284 sq ft total, which encompassed 171 projects certified in 2013. Although the list is referred to as a top-10 list, a tie for fifth place as well as a special mention of Washington, D.C., resulted in 12 entities actually making it to this most recent list.

As in past years, California had the highest total LEED-certified square footage, at 72,729,476, or 1.95 sq ft per capita. The next-closest state was New York at 37,839,395 sq ft (also 1.95 sq ft per capita). Although these two states tied for fifth place, together they account for nearly half of the 1,777 LEED-certified projects represented by the list this year.

Washington, D.C., which topped the list in 2011 and 2012, is included this year but is not ranked because it is not a state. The District, which is small, densely populated, and the site of many public building projects that seek LEED certification, is in a league unto itself when it comes to square footage per capita measures. In 2013, the 106 LEED-certified projects in the District accounted for 19,524,216 sq ft, a staggering 32.45 sq ft per capita.

Four states are new to the list in 2013: Oregon, North Carolina, Hawaii, and Minnesota. North Carolina had 133 projects certified in 2013, totaling 17,183,099 sq ft. That translates to 1.8 sq ft per capita, landing the state at seventh on the list. Emily Scofield, the executive director of the North Carolina chapter of the USGBC, said that her group worked extensively to advocate for LEED certification in the state in 2013, and seeing the state on the list was “thrilling.” Scofield responded in writing to questions posed by Civil Engineering online.

“It was affirmation that the culture in our state values smart, efficient, and beneficial development,” said Scofield said. “It also speaks to the sophisticated principles of North Carolina property owners and construction teams that supply the growing demand for LEED-certified spaces.”

The state chapter’s advocacy included discussion with members of the state’s general assembly about the value of LEED. Those efforts led to a change to a state law, HB 628, that preserved LEED as an option on public projects, Scofield said.

But the trend in “green” building is not entirely on the upswing. The 11 states plus Washington, D.C., totaled 246,355,685 sq ft of new LEED-certified space in 2013, a decline from levels seen in 2012 and 2011. In 2011, 10 states plus Washington, D.C., accounted for a total of 293,732,163 sq ft. In 2012, that figure had dropped to 250,702,194 sq ft. If the 11th state is removed from the 2013 list, the top 10 states and Washington, D.C., total 238,150,530 sq ft.

Nevertheless LEED certifications nationwide totaled approximately 420 million sq ft in 2013, according to Jacob Kriss, a media specialist for USGBC. That’s a rebound from the 393 million sq ft in 2012, but below the 455 million sq ft recorded in 2011. Worldwide, 4,642 projects were LEED-certified in 2013, representing 596.8 million sq ft.

To calculate its ranking, the USGBC used its own database plus population data from the most recent U.S. Census. The complete list is:

1. Illinois: 171 projects, 29,415,284 sq ft, 2.29 sq ft per capita

2. Maryland: 119 projects, 12,696,429 sq ft, 2.20 sq ft per capita

3. Virginia: 160 projects, 16,868,693 sq ft, 2.11 sq ft per capita

4. Massachusetts: 101 projects, 13,684,430 sq ft, 2.09 sq ft per capita

5. (tie) New York: 259 projects, 37,839,395 sq ft, 1.95 sq ft per capita

5. (tie) California: 595 projects, 72,729,476 sq ft, 1.95 sq ft per capita

6. Oregon: 47 projects, 6,991,942 sq ft, 1.83 sq ft per capita

7. North Carolina: 133 projects, 17,183,099 sq ft, 1.80 sq ft per capita

8. Colorado: 124 projects, 8,894,187 sq ft, 1.77 sq ft per capita

9. Hawaii: 17 projects, 2,323,379 sq ft, 1.71 sq ft per capita

10. Minnesota: 51 projects, 8,205,155 sq ft, 1.55 sq ft per capita

Not ranked: Washington, D.C.: 106 projects, 19,524,216 sq ft, 32.45 sq ft per capita

“I congratulate everyone in these states whose contributions to resources saved, toxins eliminated, greenhouse gases avoided, and human health enhanced help [to] guarantee a prosperous future for our planet and the people who call it home,” said Rick Fedrizzi, the president, chief executive officer, and founding chair of the USGBC in a press release announcing the list.

The USGBC reports that since its inception, more than 20,000 projects have achieved LEED certification worldwide, accounting for 2.9 billion sq ft of space. Roughly 37,000 additional projects are currently in some stage of the certification process.



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