LEED for everything? Mapping out 2014’s Top 10 States for LEED | U.S. Green Building Council
Please upgrade your browser. This site requires a newer version to work correctly. Read more
Published on
Written by
Posted in Industry
Published on
Written by
Posted in Industry

USGBC has just announced its 2014 Top 10 States for LEED, which highlights the states around the country that are at the forefront of sustainable building design and transformation. 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.

The per capita approach to this list provides a snapshot of the impact that LEED activity has on the lives of a state’s residents over the course of a year. The complete list of 2014’s top 10 states includes:

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

2014 was a historic year for the LEED green building rating system, globally with the 675.9 million square feet of space certified in 2014 representing the largest area ever to become LEED certified in a single calendar year. 2014 saw a 13.2 percent increase in the square footage certified over 2013 (596.7 million square feet), further expanding the rating system’s impact as a global bulwark for environmental sustainability. 

Not surprisingly, 2014’s Top 10 States for LEED were on the leading edge of this trend. The states that made the list this year were responsible for an 11 percent increase in the amount of space certified over the states that made up 2013’s Top 10 list (251.7 million square feet vs. 226.8 million square feet). This is also the fifth year that USGBC has developed this list, and the market for LEED has shown tremendous resilience over time in all the states that have peppered the top 10 throughout the years. 

Interesting trends for 2014

  • Illinois has become the first state to rank as the top state for LEED over two consecutive years.
  • Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to make the top 10 every year since USGBC began announcing this market index.
  • Following closely behind Illinois and Colorado are California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York and Virginia, which have been ranked in the top 10 for the past four consecutive years beginning in 2011. Together these seven states encompass a strong cross section of the United States representing the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, Rocky Mountain region and the West Coast. 

The District of Columbia did not make the official list since it is a federal district and not a state, but its incredible rate of certifying 29.44 square feet of LEED per resident is so impressive that the District’s efforts warrant significant acclaim. Occupying such rarified air is nothing new for D.C. however, as the city also managed to certify 32.45 square feet per resident in 2013, 36.97 square feet per resident in 2012, 31.5 square feet per resident in 2011, and 25.15 square feet per resident in 2010.

LEED makes an impact across the U.S.

Digging deeper into the rankings also provides an interesting picture of how LEED is making an impact across the United States. While states such as Illinois and New York are buoyed by two of the largest cities in the nation with a demonstrated and healthy appetite for LEED (Chicago and New York City are joined by the District of Columbia and Houston as the only four cities in the world to certify more than 100 million square feet of LEED space), smaller states such as Hawaii have been able to make the top 10 in consecutive years with the help of smaller markets that have unique reasons for turning to LEED. Lahaina, Hawaii—a small resort community with a permanent population of only 11,704 permanent residents—had the largest certified project in the state of Hawaii last year, the Hyatt Regency Maui Resort and Spa.

This year’s rankings also make it is clear that there are strong emerging markets for LEED green buildings across the country. This is the first time that either Georgia or Arizona made the list, and the Georgia World Congress Center Authority was the largest certified project in the United States for 2014. 

High profile recertification projects

There were also several high profile recertification projects this year, including NBC Tower and 540 West Madison in Chicago, Illinois. These projects exemplify how this year’s top state for LEED is showing leadership in an important new dimension of LEED—the push to make sure that LEED green buildings are maintaining a high standard of performance over time. This is a major priority for the green building community as we seek to ensure that LEED buildings are not just well designed, but well run and consistently accountable structures.

View photos of some of the most notable projects to certify in the Top 10 States in the slideshow below.

USGBC Articles can be accessed in the USGBC app for iOS or Android on your iPhone, iPad or Android device.
iOS App on App StoreAndroid app on Google Play