Honorable mentions announced in Top 10 States for LEED 2016 | U.S. Green Building Council
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Learn more about top states for LEED buildings in 2016 with these five honorable mentions.

In late January, USGBC released the annual Top 10 States for LEED rankings, spotlighting U.S. states leading the way for sustainable transformation of the places where we live, learn, work and play through LEED. But given how close the rankings were this past year, we didn’t think it was enough to only showcase the first 10 states on our list.

These five states didn’t make the official cut, but are nonetheless driving change by engaging business, nonprofit and government stakeholders to make a demonstrable impact on their residents’ quality of life:

#11: Ohio

Ohio just barely missed the Top 10 list, placing 11th on the 2016 annual ranking of U.S. states by LEED-certified space per capita, with 17.40 million square feet certified in 2016, equivalent to 1.51 certified gross square feet per capita. Of the 122 commercial projects certified in the state last year, 35 were LEED-certified, 64 were Silver and 23 were Gold. Notably, nearly 46 percent of all projects certified in the past year were schools, 32 of which were K–12 projects, with an additional 24 projects certified under the purview of higher education institutions.

Ohio made a longstanding commitment to its schools with the passage of Resolution #07-124 by the Ohio Facilities Commission in September 2007, which approved the incorporation of energy efficiency and sustainable design features into all future and some previously approved school projects. All K–12 public school projects approved under this resolution that receive funding to pursue certification are required to meet a minimum of LEED Silver, with strong encouragement to achieve Gold.

#12: Georgia

Georgia ranks 12th on the list, with 14.34 million GSF of LEED-certified space, or 1.48 feet of certified space per capita—a 2 percent difference separating our 11th and 12th place rankings. Georgia certified 86 commercial projects in the last year, 25 of which were LEED-certified, 31 Silver, 28 Gold and two Platinum. In a departure from the popular rating system trends among the Top 10 States, the most popular rating system in Georgia in 2016 was BD+C, with 52 projects certified, followed by ID+C with 19 projects, and finally, 15 projects were certified under O+M.

Atlanta, which will host the Green Schools Conference presented by USGBC in March, boasted the most projects of any city in the state in 2016, with 34 certifications. To the north of the capital, the city of Roswell saw the second largest total of certified projects—an accomplishment for the seventh largest city in the state and due in part to a the recertification of a group of office buildings by the Sustainable Investment Group. There were also many projects that certified under the retail adaptation for BD+C and ID+C, helmed by notable brands like StarbucksChick-Fil-A and PNC Bank

#13: Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania followed on the heels of Georgia, with 17.98 million certified GSF of space, or 1.42 per capita. Of the 115 commercial projects certified last year, about 42 percent were certified to the Silver level (48 projects), followed by LEED-certified and LEED Gold (32 projects each), and then LEED Platinum (three projects). Also deviating from the trend patterns in the Top 10 States, BD+C was the most popular rating system in Pennsylvania in 2016, with a whopping 73 projects, followed by ID+C with 57 projects, and then O+M with 13 projects.

Notably, five projects certified last year were warehouse and distribution spaces, although again, schools projects were widely popular, with 21 higher education projects and 10 K–12 projects. Pennsylvania actively supports green schools on the city level through Act 46, which was passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in July 2005 to amended school construction reimbursement rates for state public schools, specifically adjusting the approved building construction cost of a Silver, Gold or Platinum LEED-certified school facility by providing extra funds according to pupil capacity.

#14: New Hampshire

New Hampshire, with its population of 1.32 million residents (as of the 2010 Census), comes in at number 14 on our list, with nine LEED commercial projects certified in 2016—representing 1.65 million square feet of certified space, or 1.25 per capita. Six of the projects were certified to the LEED Silver level, two were LEED-certified, and one achieved Gold. These projects span seven cities across the state and represent a diverse range of space types, from offices to retail spaces, and include a warehouse and distribution project and a higher education laboratory.

New Hampshire’s ranking on the list is a clear demonstration of how impactful green building strategies can be when supported by local government officials, no matter the size of the state. Chapter 242, which was enacted by the state in June 2012, amended the New Hampshire building code to adopt by reference the International Building Code of 2009, the International Existing Building Code of 2009 and the International Energy Conservation Code of 2009.

#15: New Jersey

New Jersey rounds out the top 15 states on the list with 10.62 million certified square feet, equal to 1.21 GSF of LEED space per capita. Of the 82 commercial projects certified in 2016, four were certified to the Platinum level, 18 to Gold, 31 to Silver and 29 to LEED-certified. Worth noting are that seven projects are tied to the manufacturing sector, five to education (including both higher education institutions and K–12 facilities), and seven were multifamily/residential projects (under BD+C). 

Of the states highlighted in this honorable mention list, New Jersey has by far enacted the most policies at the state and city levels to support green building. Jersey City, which saw eight projects certified in 2016, has two city ordinances that promote green building. Ordinance 09-001 requires all new construction and renovations of public buildings to achieve LEED Silver certification and the EPA’s Energy Star Building Label, and Ordinance 09-002 grants a partial refund of building permit and lands development application fees for new construction and commercial building renovation projects.

Of the state-level policies, Chapter 296 is notable for requiring any new state building over 15,000 square feet to be designed to meet the standards of a “high-performance building”—defined in part as a building that receives at least a LEED Silver certification.

To learn more about state and local level policies that support green building and LEED, visit the USGBC Public Policy Library.

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