USGBC Releases the Top 10 States for LEED Green Building Per Capita in Nation | U.S. Green Building Council
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USGBC Releases the Top 10 States for LEED Green Building Per Capita in Nation

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Illinois leads among all states for the second consecutive year; newcomers Georgia and Arizona show momentum with LEED in the South and Southwest

Washington, D.C. — (Feb. 4, 2015) — Today, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED, the world’s most widely used and recognized green building rating system, ranking states in terms of square feet of LEED space per state resident. The per-capita list highlights states throughout the country that are making significant strides in sustainable building design, construction and transformation. LEED-certified spaces use less energy and water resources, save money for families, businesses and taxpayers, reduce carbon emissions and create a healthier environment for residents, workers and the larger community.

“Every story about a green building is a story about people,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair, USGBC. "USGBC’s annual recognition of the Top 10 States for LEED goes beyond gross square feet or number of projects and factors in LEED’s potential in a given state to be part of the daily life of the state’s residents. This per-capita approach tells a great story about how LEED has become an important benchmark in the transformation of the nation’s built environment. LEED certified buildings and the innovations they have driven contribute substantially to our national economic growth, create jobs and improve the quality of life in the communities where they are found. We commend the business and community leaders, policy makers and green building professionals in each of these states for making the commitment to create a healthier, more sustainable future.”

Now in its fifth year, the per-capita list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified throughout 2014. Illinois retained its top national position for the second year in a row, with 174 LEED certifications representing 3.31 square feet of LEED-certified space per resident.

Two newcomers to the list, Georgia and Arizona, show that 2014 was a year of major growth for LEED in the South and Southwest regions of the country, while the continued strong performance of Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia have helped the mid-Atlantic region remain the epicenter of green building across the country. Washington, D.C., which is not included on the official list of top states due to its status as a federal territory, is notable as it continues to lead the nation with 29.44 square feet of space per resident certified in 2014. Maryland and Virginia finished third and fourth respectively, and both states increased their per capita totals to 2.70 and 2.33 square feet of LEED space per resident in 2014.

2014’s list had the highest average (2.34) of per capita space certified per resident per state since 2010, and the second highest average to date. Six of the eight states (IL, CO, MD, VA, MA and HI), which were also on the list in 2013, increased the amount of square feet of space they certified per resident in 2014. Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to make the list every year since 2010. 

The full ranking is as follows:

Rank State Projects certified in 2014 Square feet LEED certified in 2014 Per-capita square footage
1 Illinois 174 42,457,254 3.31
2 Colorado 102 15,816,498 3.15
3 Maryland 132 15,583,423 2.70
4 Virginia 150 18,617,712 2.33
5 Massachusetts 99 14,662,950 2.2
6 Hawaii 30 2,657,808 1.95
7 California 517 69,762,936 1.87
8 Georgia 87 17,748,781 1.83
9 Minnesota 39 9,511,684 1.79
10 (tied) Arizona 82 11,152,201 1.74
10 (tied) New York 250 33,691,209 1.74
* Washington, D.C. 102 17,716,622 29.44

*Washington, D.C. is not ranked as it is a federal district, not a state.

USGBC calculates the list using per-capita figures as a measure of the human element of green building, allowing for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and, accordingly, number of overall buildings.

In 2014, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance was once again the most popular rating system within the top 10 states, representing 48 percent of the total square footage certified. LEED for Building Design and Construction was the second most popular rating system in the top 10, representing 46 percent of the square footage certified and LEED for Interior Design and Construction was the third most popular rating system, representing 6 percent of total square footage certified in these states in 2014.

A sample of notable projects that certified in these states in 2014 include:

  • Illinois: The Aon Center, a 3.2 million-square-foot tower in Chicago managed by Jones Lang LaSalle, LEED Silver
  • Colorado: Denver Museum of Nature & Science’s Morgridge Family Exploration Center in Denver, LEED Platinum
  • Maryland: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Building 26 in Greenbelt, LEED Gold
  • Virginia: University of Mary Washington’s Technology Convergence Center in Fredericksburg, LEED Silver
  • Massachusetts: Winchester Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Center in Winchester, LEED Gold
  • Hawaii: City Financial Tower in Honolulu, LEED Gold
  • California: Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, LEED Gold
  • Georgia: The Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, LEED Silver
  • Minnesota: Wells Fargo Center in Minneapolis, LEED Gold
  • Arizona: Arizona State University Health Services renovation in Tempe, LEED Platinum
  • New York: Golisano Institute for Sustainability at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, LEED Platinum

Collectively, 1,662 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2014, representing 251.7 million square feet of real estate. Worldwide, 4,502 projects were certified in 2014, representing 675.7 million square feet.

More than 26,600 projects representing 3.6 billion square feet of space have been LEED-certified to date, with another 42,000 projects representing 8.8 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification. USGBC launched LEED v4, the newest version of the rating system, in the fall of 2013. The latest version continues to raise the bar for the entire green building industry, which Forbes Magazine projects could be worth up to $960 billion globally by 2023. LEED v4 features increased technical rigor; new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail and midrise residential projects; and a simplified submittal process supported by a robust and intuitive technology platform.

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Marisa Long

Public Relations & Communications Director U.S. Green Building Council
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