Illinois and Maryland top the U.S. Green Building Council's annual Top Ten list of states that have the most square footage of environmentally-friendly construction, according to the council's LEED certification program.
LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is what the council calls "the world's most widely used and recognized green building rating system," the organization noted in a press release.
The council's top ten is determined by square footage of LEED certified space per capita. Illinois maintained its top spot for the third year in a row with 3.43 square feet of LEED-certified green space per capita, along with 161 green construction projects. Maryland comes in at No. 2 with 3.06 square feet and 127 green projects.
Rounding out the rest of the Top Ten are Massachusetts, Washington, Colorado. Nevada, California, Texas, Virginia and Utah.
"Green construction is quickly outpacing conventional construction in the U.S.," Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, said in the release. "LEED has become an essential tool for the transformation of building design and construction. By recognizing these states excelling in the use of LEED, we are celebrating the green building professionals, architects, business, policy and community leaders who work tirelessly to design and develop innovative solutions toward a healthier, more sustainable future. LEED construction drives economic growth, creates jobs and makes communities greener."
If the list were to rank states by gross square footage and the number of green projects, California and Texas would top the list. California has 87.35 million square feet of LEED-certified green space and a total of 618 LEED-certified projects. Texas has 52.44 million square feet and 237 projects. Illinois has 43.97 million square feet and 161 projects, the council reported.
The council noted if the District of Columbia were a state, it would be the runaway leader on the list by virtue of 19.3 square feet of LEED-certified green space per capita. Many federal buildings in the area take advantage of green technologies.
Each state in the Top Ten had at least one project that was LEED certified in 2015. The Virgin Hotel in Chicago was certified LEED Gold. The North Colorado Springs Readiness Center, which is home to the Colorado National Guard, was certified LEED Platinum. And the University of Washington's Husky Stadium in Seattle, was certified LEED Silver.
The council's press release stated that the top states had 1,633 commercial and institutional projects that received LEED certification in 2015.
The council's Top Ten ranking is now in its sixth year. Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to make the list every year since the council began compiling the list in 2010.
How commercial buildings are becoming green
There are several features that non-residential buildings can have installed that would not only make them more environmentally responsible, they would become more energy efficient, use resources more efficiently and lower utility costs. Many property developers are having them installed during initial construction. Others are having their buildings retrofitted. Some of the features include:
- Vegetated roofs: Also called living roofs, this feature covers a building roof in a waterproof membrane, then soil, then some kind of vegetation. That may be purely decorative foliage. Or some roofs have vegetable gardens as well. The U.S. General Services Administration studied the impact of vegetated roofs and found that they can reduce stormwater runoff by as much as 65 percent and cool roofs by up to 40 percent.
- Wastewater management: Low-flow automatic toilets and sinks have been installed for decades. But some buildings go further by installing dual plumbing systems. These systems take grey water from laundry, dishwashing or bathing and put it to another use before it's discarded. That may include irrigation or filling toilet tanks for flushing.
- Solar panels: Solar panels are perhaps the one component most often associated with green building. Go Solar California explains that solar cells convert particles of sunlight (photons) into electrons of direct current, or DC electricity. With a solar panel system, the electrons flow into an inverter that converts DC power to alternating current, or AC electricity. AC is what powers common items such as televisions, computers and other household appliances. A meter keeps track of the power a solar system uses. And whatever isn't used immediately goes back on the electricity grid through the meter.
Green features for buildings promote efficiency. When constructing buildings with green features, contractors also need to be efficient. On-site storage with Mobile Mini ensures that construction projects remain on time and on budget. Tools, materials and equipment can be stored safely and securely on the job site instead of having to be transported back and forth daily. Mobile Mini's steel storage containers provide vault-like security, giving contractors peace of mind.