With January 2020 registering as the hottest January on record, 2019 the second-hottest year on record and the 2010s the hottest decade ever, climate change is becoming harder for skeptics to ignore. The Trump administration’s cuts to environmental regulations further accentuate the need for sustainable building practices.
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is the environmental rating system most commonly used to certify buildings as environmentally sound. To attain LEED certification, buildings must be constructed to reach sustainability goals including high energy and water efficiency, low carbon emissions, a healthy indoor environment and cost savings.
Last year in this space, we reported on the states (and Washington, D.C.) with the most square feet per capita of LEED-certified new construction in 2018, as reported by the nonprofit U.S. Green Building Council. The 2019 results are in, and are the subject of this week’s chart. Properties included are mixed-use high-rises, condominium and apartment buildings, and institutional and commercial properties, but not single-family homes.
Colorado came out on top in 2019, up from sixth place in 2018, with 102 projects totaling 23,962,344 square feet of LEED-certified construction, or 4.76 square feet per Colorado resident. Next were Illinois and New York.
Despite the national policies emerging from Washington, D.C., the district itself has adopted aggressive sustainability strategies, requiring all nonresidential public buildings to meet LEED-certification standards. Those strategies, coupled with the capital’s comparatively small population, give it more than 10 times the LEED-certified square feet of new construction per capita than any state: 52.86. (Because it’s not a state, it’s been appended to the bottom of our list.)