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U.S. Cities Leading the Way in LEED-Certified Construction


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Environmentally conscious construction has made leaps and bounds over the last decade, with more companies focusing their efforts on designing buildings with an eye on sustainability. The widest used rating system for green building is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in the year 2000. To attain LEED certification, buildings must meet certain standards around materials used, energy and water conservation and carbon emissions, all of which reduce a building’s impact on the environment, lower energy and operational costs, and contribute to a healthier world not just for occupants, but for everyone.

It’s no surprise, then, that major U.S. cities are taking the lead on ramping up LEED-certified construction. 

Green commercial and residential construction projects are on the rise in part because of soaring energy costs and the population boom happening in major urban centers around the world. There simply aren’t enough resources to sustain the current trend line of global energy consumption. It’s no surprise, then, that major U.S. cities are taking the lead on ramping up LEED-certified construction. According to research by Abodo, the total square footage of LEED-certified construction in the U.S. is 1.32 billion, spread across 38,353 projects nationwide. Texas, California and New York take the top spots for states with the most residential LEED projects, combining for nearly 1/3 of the total.

They say everything is bigger in Texas, and that applies to the number of LEED-certified residential construction projects, too. The Lone Star State boasts just under 7,000 LEED-certified residential projects, more than any other state, half of which are in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metro area, which tops the list of total projects at 3,797.

California and New York round out the top 3 states for residential projects, in large part owing to the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim and New York City metro areas, respectively.

When it comes to total square footage of LEED-certified construction projects, The Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria metro area leads the nation. 

When it comes to total square footage of LEED-certified construction projects, The Washington D.C.-Arlington-Alexandria metro area leads the nation in sustainable, LEED-certified construction, with a combined nearly 500 million square-feet of residential and commercial sustainable space. Our nation’s capital also has the distinction of the world’s oldest LEED-certified building, the 143-year-old Treasury Department Headquarters, according to The Washington Post.

Many cities topping the list of LEED-certified residential projects are also leaders in sustainable commercial construction projects. The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, New York-Newark-Jersey City, and Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim metro areas comprise the top 3 cities with the most LEED-certified commercial construction projects, with Chicago-Naperville-Elgin and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward taking the 4th and 5th spots. These major city centers combine for 7,339 total projects.

The USGBC recently released its annual list of the top 10 states for LEED-certification on a per-capita basis. The rankings, in order, are as follows:

  1. Massachusetts
  2.  New York
  3.  Illinois
  4. Hawaii
  5. Maryland
  6. Minnesota
  7. Georgia
  8. California
  9. Virginia
  10. Colorado

The states included have achieved LEED-certification status for some massive projects. Maryland’s MGM National Harbor, a 1.3 million square-foot casino resort, achieved LEED Gold certification, as did U.S. Bank Stadium, the 1.8 million square-foot home of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings. Georgia’s 1.9 million square-foot Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta reached LEED Platinum status, the highest LEED certification distinction there is.

Smaller population centers are also following suit as the desire for cleaner, greener construction continues to grow. 

Praising the states on this year's list, Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC, said:

“These states showcase exceptional leadership and by using LEED, businesses, property owners and policy makers in these states are strategically addressing some of the most critical social and environmental concerns of our time.”

Cities may be taking the pole position in sustainable construction projects, but smaller population centers are also following suit as the desire for cleaner, greener construction continues to grow.

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks you may enjoy:

The Future of Green Building

Is Green Building Worth It?

Where is Green Building Headed?

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