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Road trip across the Top 10 States for LEED

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A lot can happen in a day — let alone 365 of them. And in the case of green building that took place in the Top 10 States for LEED, those 365 days brought us certifications for 1,777 commercial and institutional projects representing 226.8 million square feet of real estate. That’s 1,777 more spaces certified to be saving precious natural resources, providing healthier indoor environments, mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

To celebrate the release of our list, join me in a trip across our nation as we tour some of the spaces that, through LEED certification in 2013, came to the forefront of our global mission to transform the built environment.

Start in Massachusetts, No. 4 on our list, which added 101 projects representing 2.09 square feet per resident. In Boston, the 37-story One Beacon Street sports a new LEED Platinum plaque it earned in 2013 through a recertification after its initial LEED Silver. In Lawrence, the LEED Platinum Department of Environmental Protection Wall Experiment Station was the world’s first trial station for drinking water purification and sewage treatment — truly the green building that makes everything greener. Finally, go west to Holyoke to visit the Massachusetts Green High-Performance Computing Center, a LEED Platinum technological marvel that is helping researchers unlock the secrets of the universe.

The Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke. Credit: Helen Hill/MGHPCC

Right next-door is No. 5 New York state, a perennial powerhouse for green building that made our annual list for 2011 and 2012. In Brooklyn, don’t let the rust on the new Barclays Center arena fool you — its LEED Silver certification was earned with multiple green features throughout the building. Visit the iconic Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan, completed in 1936 and certified LEED Silver 77 years later, and head uptown to Harlem to the LEED Gold Castle Gardens, an affordable housing complex co-developed by the Jonathan Rose Companies and the Fortune Society. Don’t forget to grab your jacket to go upstate to SUNY Binghamton to see the new LEED Platinum Science and Engineering Building — one of only three Platinum-certified projects in the state university system.

Thurgood Marshall U.S. Courthouse in Manhattan. Credit: Timothy Schenck

Next, head down to No. 2 Maryland, where Perdue Farms headquarters earned the distinction of being the first LEED Platinum project on the Eastern Shore after a four-year renovation. In Baltimore, trade chicken for Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium, the only NFL stadium to earn Gold certification under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance. Finally, inside the D.C. Beltway, stop at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, a stunning new LEED Gold project at the forefront of our national efforts to address climate change.

 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Weather and Climate Prediction in College Park, Md. Credit: Alan Karchmer

On your way south, don’t forget to swing through Washington, D.C., which, though it’s not a state, again delivered more per-capita green square footage to its 600,000 residents in 2013 than any other place in the nation. In the Dupont Circle area, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace earned Gold certification under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance for a renovation of its headquarters, and in the Southeast, the beautiful new Francis A. Gregory Library, opened in 2012, earned LEED Silver. Meanwhile, Georgetown University’s new science building, Regents Hall, also took home LEED Gold, the second certification for one of the nation’s most prestigious universities.

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Crossing over the Potomac, Virginia secured No. 3 on our list, with 2.11 square feet of LEED space per resident. In Arlington, 1776 Wilson Blvd. earned the distinction of being the first LEED Platinum project in the city, sporting a green roof among its many other sustainable features. In Richmond, the Robinson & Merhige U.S. Courthouse scored LEED Silver after a renovation project, and in Harrisonburg, the Dukes of James Madison University are seeing green with a Silver certification for University Park, a massive 65-arce outdoor sports complex.

 1776 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, Va. © RTKL.com/David Whitcomb

Keep moving south to No. 7 North Carolina, a proud newcomer to our list in 2013, which certified 133 projects representing 1.80 square feet per resident. In Charlotte, gaze up at the double LEED Platinum Duke Energy Center (LEED for Existing Buildings in 2013 and LEED for Core & Shell in 2010), the second tallest building in the city and a monument to sustainable construction. From there, head east for a cold beer at the LEED Gold Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, or trek west to Forest City, where Facebook’s massive new data center secured LEED Gold in 2013, thanks in no small part to the efforts of USGBC Platinum Member DPR Construction.

 Mother Earth Brewing in Kinston, N.C. Credit: Mother Earth Brewing

Leaving the East Coast behind, head inland to Illinois, the proud owner of the No. 1 spot on our list, with 2.29 square feet of LEED space for each of its nearly 13 million residents. In Chicago, where 459 LEED-certified projects make it one of the greenest cities in America, the LEED Platinum 300 North LaSalle towers 57 stories over the Chicago River, while the new LEED Gold Powell Elementary on the South Side offers children the best possible opportunity to excel at the beginning of their educational journey. Just north, in Skokie, the Illinois Holocaust Museum honors the memory of lives lost with a striking dark-versus-light LEED Gold design, and in Peoria, to the southwest, visit a monument to the earth-moving machines at the backbone of every major construction project at the LEED Gold Caterpillar Visitors Center.

 The Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie. Credit: David Seide

Moving northwest, swing into Minnesota, No. 10 on our 2013 list. In Minneapolis, the emblematic Fifth Street Towers started a new lease on a sustainable life in 2013, certifying LEED Gold and shedding a pervasive ‘80s shade of teal. Then, head south to the new Nelson Cultural Center at the American Swedish Institute, a beautiful new LEED Gold addition to the museum dedicated to role people of Swedish heritage have played in American society. Last, but certainly not least, don your thinking cap at Carleton College’s new Weitz Center for Creativity in Northfield, a laboratory for inciting curiosity and exploration in a LEED Gold environment.

Carleton College Weitz Center for Creativity in Northfield, Minn. Credit: Lara Swimmer

The Rocky Mountains will rise as you continue west, coming into Colorado, No. 8 on the Top 10 States for LEED. In Fort Collins, visit the LEED Platinum Museum of Discovery, a dynamic space teeming with interactive experiences for kids and adults alike. In Grand Junction, the beautiful Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse sports a LEED Platinum plaque, has design awards from the American Institute of Architects, and aims to be the General Services Administration’s first site net-zero energy facility on the National Registry of Historic Places. And in the far southwest corner of the state, learn about the history of the ancient Pueblo peoples at the LEED Platinum Mesa Verde National Park Visitors Center.

Wayne N. Aspinall Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo. Credit: Kevin Reeves

After a long drive west, you’ll finally smell the pungent firs of Oregon, No. 6 among the top 10 states. In Portland, check out the Edith Green-Wendell Wyatt Federal Building, which has undergone a stunning transformation with glass and steel, earning LEED Platinum while saving government and taxpayers big. In Tualatin, work on your tennis backhand at the LEED Gold Stafford Hills Club, and head back into Portland for dinner at the Raven & Rose Restaurant, a LEED Gold space replete with reclaimed wood, reused original brick and sustainable operating practices as well.

 Edith Green - Wendell Wyatt Federal Building in Portland, Ore. Credit: Nic Lehoux

Move south to California, where the state’s laid-back sustainable building leaders aren’t the least bit unhappy about sharing the No. 5 position with New York on our Top 10 States for LEED. They saw 595 LEED projects certify in 2013, good for 1.95 square feet for each of the state’s 37 million residents. Savor some melodies at the LEED Gold SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco, and while you’re there, head to Lands End Lookout for gorgeous views of the entrance to the bay from a LEED Platinum perch. In Los Angeles, see the gleaming dual towers of the Wells Fargo Center, which both earned Gold certification in 2013 under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, and head up Highway 101 to Agoura Hills, where the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation carries on the legacy of the hotel magnate in a striking new LEED Platinum building.

SFJAZZ Center in San Francisco. Credit: Henrik Kam

Exhausted after your long trip? Swim over to No. 9 Hawaii for some sand, sun and sustainable design. A newcomer to our top 10 list, the state certified 17 projects in 2013, good for 1.71 square feet per resident. In Kapolei, the LEED Silver Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa is sure to please the kids (and let’s face it — probably everyone else), and when you’re in Honolulu, swing by the LEED Gold Punahou School Omidyar K-1 Neighborhood to see the benefits LEED brings to the learning environment. And on the north shore of Oahu, check out the Kawailoa Wind Project, the largest wind project in Hawaii, whose maintenance and operations building earned LEED Silver in 2013 — an appropriate achievement for a project helping us move toward a future fueled by clean, renewable energy.

Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa in Kapolei, Hawaii. Credit: Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa - ©Disney

That’s it! To see more photos of LEED projects that certified in 2013, check out the slideshow that accompanies our press release. Did your state not make the list for 2013? Get involved with your local USGBC chapter to find out about opportunities to advance green building in your state!

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    Jacob Kriss made 10 contributions in the last 6 months

Jacob Kriss

Media Specialist U.S. Green Building Council

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