USGBC’s Top 10 States List Shows Regional Diversity, Expansion

LEED Platinum certification plaque at Saltwater Creek State Park, Ga.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently released a list of the top 10 states for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified U.S. projects in 2010. The list, which includes calculations only from commercial and institutional buildings, shows a wide range of regional diversity and an important expansion trend for the green building industry. The LEED rating system, which scores buildings on energy, water, land, materials and other environmental metrics, is the standard in green building ratings and is an important indicator for green building trends nationally.

The top 10 list includes states that are spread widely across the West, Northwest, Northeast, South and Midwest regions of the United States. Nevada tops the state LEED-certified building list with 10.92 square feet per person, but Washington D.C. as a city is included and more than doubles Nevada’s square footage with 25.15 square feet per person. Chicago is also cited as the city with the second most square footage per capita of LEED-certified projects.

The USGBC makes a more valuable statement on the use and impact of green building by utilizing square footage per capita rather than number of buildings or square footage alone. As SVP of LEED Scot Horst is quoted, “ Using per capita, versus the more traditional numbers of projects, or pure square footage, is a reminder that the people who live and work, learn and play in buildings should be what we care about most.”

The final list reported in the USGBC press release, including Washington, D.C., is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and is reported in square feet per capita:

  • District of Columbia (25.15)
  • Nevada (10.92)
  • New Mexico (6.35)
  • New Hampshire (4.49)
  • Oregon (4.07)
  • South Carolina (3.19)
  • Washington (3.16)
  • Illinois (3.09)
  • Arkansas (2.90)
  • Colorado (2.85)
  • Minnesota (2.77)

Because most of the LEED-certified projects analyzed for the list were registered since the beginning of 2009, the report also signifies positive signs for the green building industry. According to the USGBC’s database from which this list derives, the U.S. has over 41,000 LEED-certified buildings across the country containing over 4.5 billion square feet of construction space since its inception in 2001. Over 53% of the projects, however (about 22,000 projects), were registered since the beginning of 2009, representing 49%, or 2.2 billion square feet of building space.

As the leader in green building standards, the USGBC LEED-certification system is a significant indicator of the sustainable development and green building industry in the United States. The USGBC’s top 10 states list for LEED-certified construction displays promising trends, both in regional diversity of applications and a continued expansion in certified projects in the last several years.