From homes to buildings, green structures can make a big difference for our sustainable communities. They make our air cleaner, our land greener, and our homes healthier to live in. One of the key ways to track this is with the USGBC (U.S. Green Building Council) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system.
First, a little bit of background about this rating system. To achieve LEED certification, a project earns points by adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health, and indoor environmental quality. Projects go through a verification and review process by GBCI (Green Business Certification) and are awarded points that correspond to a level of LEED certification.
The advantages are clear: healthier air quality, reduced pollution, reduced waste, and less energy use and carbon emissions. To be clear, homes and businesses can still achieve these benefits without a certification.
Still, LEED is a good way to track where green buildings are going up around the country. Looking back, in 2022, USGBC surpassed 100,000 LEED-certified projects globally, totaling more than 11 billion certified gross sq.ft.
In fact, the USGBC took this data and released its annual ranking of U.S. states leading the way with green buildings in 2022. The ranking is based on LEED-certified gross square footage per capita throughout the past year.
The top 10 states included Massachusetts, Illinois, New York, California, Maryland, Georgia, Colorado, Virginia, Texas, and Oregon. In 2022, the top 10 states certified 1,225 projects and nearly 353 million gross sq.ft., under LEED.
Looking a bit closer at some of the top states, in Massachusetts, 96 buildings encompassing over 26 million sq.ft., were LEED-certified in 2022, equating to nearly 3.7 LEED-certified sq.ft., per resident. In comparison, Illinois was 3.47 sq.ft., per capita, New York was 3.17 sq.ft., per capita, and California was 2.43 sq.ft., per capita.
As a federal territory, Washington, D.C., does not appear in the official top 10 list of states, but it consistently leads the nation in LEED-certified square footage per capita, in part because of the federal government and the District’s ongoing commitments to green building.
It will be interesting to see what states come out on top for 2023. With many energy-conscious consumers flocking to warmer climates like South Carolina, it will be interesting to see how this list shapes out in the next 12 months. Green building is anyone’s opportunity—if we are willing to step up and take it.
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