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Colorado Comes in As Top LEED-certified State in the U.S.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced the list of the top 10 states for LEED construction, and for the first time in almost a decade, Colorado nabbed top billing. The rankings are based on the total square footage, per person, of LEED certified space.
echo 1966014 640 smallLEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, boasts more than 100,000 projects engaged. The top states in the U.S. house more than 105 million people with 80,000 green building professionals supporting the “sustainable transformation of buildings,” according to the organization.
“As we embark on a new decade, the USGBC community is focused on helping more projects get on the path to LEED certification and a more sustainable future,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of the USGBC. “Over the last year, the Top 10 states have certified projects that serve as incredible examples of how green building can create more sustainable and resilient spaces that improve our living standard.”
According to the USGBC, LEED projects use less water and energy, reduce costs and cut carbon emissions. To that end, Colorado certified 102 green building projects covering 4.76 square feet of certified space per capita. It has made the Top 10 list every year the list was published and jumped from sixth to first from 2018 to 2019.
“There is still much work to be done, but the progress made across these states shows us that our work is having a tangible impact on people’s lives,” said Ramanujam. “As we enter our next chapter, we are committed to helping more buildings, cities and communities improve their sustainability performance through LEED.” 
Rank State Certified Gross Square Footage (GSF) Per Capita Number of Projects LEED Professionals
1 Colorado 4.76 102 6,339
2 Illinois 3.85 121 8,662
3 New York 3.76 193 12,576
4 Massachusetts 3.74 101 6,827
5 Hawaii 3.00 12 1,145
6 Maryland 2.64 96 4,998
7 Virginia 2.50 98 6,526
8 Minnesota 2.40 25 3,346
9 Oregon 2.30 33 2,908
10 California 2.17 400 26,794
Oregon and Minnesota made their way back onto the list after falling off in 2018. Washington, D.C., which is a federal territory and not included in the state list, had a whopping 52.86 square feet of space per resident. “The nation’s capital has a strong legacy of sustainability leadership and has expanded its use of LEED from buildings to cities and communities to support its goals,” reads the announcement. “In 2017, it became the first LEED-certified city and in 2019 certified the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District LEED Platinum, the first business improvement district in the world to certify.”
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Denver Finally Has a Green Roof Planned
While Colorado was praised for its statewide green building leadership, Denver has struggled to get one of its key green initiatives off the ground. According to an article from Denverite, voters passed a green roof requirement in 2017, but after a year of grappling with how to implement the new regulations, the city is finally seeing some progress.
Re-branded as the “green buildings ordinance,” the Denver City Council aimed to decrease temperatures citywide and improve energy efficiency with the new regulations. A list of projects covered under the law now shows three building owners planning to comply by adding greenspace; one of them is even planning vegetation on its roof. Per the article, other avenues of compliance include:
  • A green roof or space
  • Paying into the green building fund
  • On-site solar panels
  • Buying off-site solar energy
  • Obtaining green building certification
  • Joining the Energy Program
  • Energy conservation
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