The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of top 10 states for LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system. For the first time since 2015, Illinois came in first on the list of states based on the number of LEED-certified square feet per person.
Illinois has continually been among the top states for the number of buildings that earn LEED certification every year, and has been a part of the Top 10 States for LEED list every single year since the list’s inception. As the number one state for LEED certification in 2018, Illinois certified 172 green building projects representing 5.31 gross square feet of LEED-certified space per person.
“The city of Chicago and state of Illinois were some of the very first government entities to set an example for green building development in the country. Illinois has consistently been at or near the top of this list since its inception, and moving into the number one spot this year proves that the state’s leadership and hard work to advance green building in the state are paying off,” said Sheri Brezinka, regional director at USGBC. “We hope that with LEED v4.1, the expertise of builders and developers, and the dedication of our USGBC members, we can continue to lead the growth of green building in the country in the coming year.”
Among the notable projects that were certified in 2018 were the Merchandise Mart, the LEED Gold certification of which makes it the largest building in Illinois to be certified in 2018, and Willis Tower, which was also certified at LEED Gold after incorporating efficiency measures into renovations to offset the building’s energy and water use. Two recent projects achieved LEED Platinum, the highest rating: the Chinatown Branch Library—which incorporates both Feng shui design elements and a green roof into the building—and Sunset Ridge School in Northfield, Illinois, which is the first public school in the state designed to be Net Zero Energy.
The states that made this year’s Top 10 are home to 128 million Americans, and the more than 1,800 buildings that certified in 2018 represent more than 468 million gross square feet of space. Buildings that are LEED-certified create healthier spaces for people, as well as use less energy and water, reduce carbon emissions and save money for families, businesses and taxpayers.
“Over the past 25 years, the U.S. Green Building Council, its member companies and the green building community have come together to make our planet stronger, greener and more sustainable through LEED,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO, USGBC. “These Top 10 states are examples of how we can create lasting, measurable change and improve the quality of life for everyone in our communities. A better future requires a universal living standard that leaves no one behind—and that future would simply not be possible without the extraordinary work being done in these states.”
Now in its ninth year, the 2018 Top 10 States for LEED list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects that earned LEED certification in 2018. The rest of the list included Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, California and Maryland.
USGBC calculates the list using per capita figures to allow for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings. In the U.S., 2,886 commercial projects certified in 2018. Globally, there are currently more than 96,275 registered and certified LEED projects in 167 countries and regions around the world.
Recently, USGBC introduced LEED v4.1, the latest update to the rating system that emphasizes human health and performance metrics; the organization also released beta versions for existing buildings (LEED v4.1 O+M), new construction (LEED v4.1 BD+C) and interiors (LEED v4.1 ID+C). Recent research shows green building will continue growing through 2021. Client demand remains the top reason to build green in the U.S. and occupant health and well-being emerged as the top social factor.
The impact of buildings, cities and communities on people continues to be a priority for USGBC and across industries. In an effort to expand USGBC’s global green building efforts and ensure that LEED is not only the de facto leadership standard, but also the pre-eminent living standard, USGBC launched the Living Standard campaign at 2018’s Greenbuild in Chicago. Focused on the belief that storytelling can lead to a more sustainable world, the campaign aims to highlight stories—big and small—that capture how USGBC, LEED and other sustainability programs are raising the quality of life for people around the world.