Feature image: Cielo Apartments in Seattle; photo credit Daniel Gaines.
USGBC recently announced its annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED, and as in past years, the competition was close. So for the second year in a row, we’re releasing rankings from the next five states on the 2017 list to recognize the significant strides that have been made in these local markets, using the most recently available census data.
Washington came in 11th place in the 2017 annual ranking, with 12,469,420 total square feet of LEED-certified space. That’s 74 certified projects, equating to 1.93 square feet of LEED space per capita. Of those projects, seven achieved LEED Platinum certification, 26 achieved Gold, 26 reached Silver and 15 were LEED Certified.
Ten of these projects were certified at higher education institutions, including Bellingham Technical College’s Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Building, while another 10 were certified multifamily residential buildings like the Cielo Apartments in Seattle.
Google’s new building in the Seattle suburb of Kirkland was the state’s highest-scoring project in 2017. Although a number of local and state-level policies encourage sustainable design and environmentally friendly practices, the enactment of Chapter 99, Laws of 2011 required that all major facility projects of public agencies that receive state funding be designed and constructed to at least LEED Silver standards.
Texas, traditionally known as a red state, has seen its green building market bloom in recent years. It slides into 12th place on the 2017 Top 10 list, with more than 43 million square feet of LEED-certified space—about 1.72 square feet per capita. Of the 190 projects certified across the state in 2017, the majority achieved LEED Gold, followed by LEED Silver, LEED Certified and then LEED Platinum.
Office space dominated the list, including Toyota’s new headquarters in Plano, also Texas’ highest-scoring project that year. More than 10 higher education projects achieved certification, including five buildings on the Texas Christian University campus in Fort Worth.
The recertification of the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston was the largest project to certify in 2017. On the local residential side, since 2014, the city of Houston has required new residential construction to exceed the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code by at least 15 percent.
13) Rhode Island
Rhode Island came in 13th, with a total of seven LEED projects encompassing 1,426,183 square feet of space and 1.35 square feet of LEED space per capita. All of the projects were located in either Kingston or Smithfield, particularly because of the universities in those locations—four were higher education projects.
Six of the projects achieved LEED Silver, and the newly constructed University of Rhode Island Chemistry Building achieved LEED Gold. Rhode Island also made green building headlines in 2017 when the state amended its Green Building Act, specifying SITES and LEED for Neighborhood Development as applicable rating systems for the certification of public buildings. This move made Rhode Island the first state in the U.S. to reference the SITES rating system in its public policy.
Tennessee certified a total of 37 projects in 2017, equaling 8,417,390 square feet of LEED space and 1.33 square feet per capita, putting the state in 14th place. The majority of projects achieved LEED Silver, with three projects standing out for reaching LEED Platinum. Two of the Platinum projects are located in Nashville and the other in Memphis.
The highest-scoring project of 2017 was the 16th floor of the UBS Business Solutions Center in Nashville, which achieved 85 points under LEED for Commercial Interiors. (This same location was previously certified LEED Platinum in 2015.)
Several K–12 projects also achieved certification, including the LEED Gold Tusculum Elementary School, also in Nashville. In 2013, Tennessee enacted Public School Chapter 333, establishing the Energy Efficient Schools Council, which provides grants and loans to school districts for capital projects and supports energy management programs.
15) North Carolina
North Carolina just made the cut, landing in 15th place, with 85 LEED projects representing a total of 9,535,483 square feet of certified space or 1.31 square feet per capita. Most projects achieved LEED Gold, and the most popular rating system used last year was LEED for New Construction.
One of the state’s most notable projects is the New Belgium Brewing Company Liquid Center in Asheville, which achieved the highest score out of all of the state’s projects in 2017. Another high-achieving project is the LEED Platinum Creative Arts Building at Haywood Community College, which uses sustainable design and LEED principles to inspire artistic creativity.
Since 2007, with the passage of the state’s Senate Bill 581, North Carolina has allowed counties and cities to provide permit fee reductions or partial rebates to encourage construction of buildings using sustainable design principles, such as those in LEED.