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LEED’s Pathway to Healthy, Green and Resilient Buildings

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The intersecting economic, health and climate crises of 2020 have made one thing clear for building professionals moving forward: Buildings must support human and environmental health.

The operational benefits of green buildings have long been proven, and continue to serve owners, investors and tenants. Green buildings increase asset value, have lower vacancy rates and operating costs, and rent for higher premiums. With the business case firmly in hand, it’s incumbent on building professionals to double down on communicating how a space is supporting people and communities.

RELATED: New LEED Credits Address Health and Safety

Certification programs like LEED have always been essential for businesses looking to demonstrate accountability. Consider, for instance, that disaster costs in the U.S. in 2020 almost doubled from 2019 reaching $95 billion. It accelerated financial markets to look for reliable ways to assess climate risk. LEED’s latest version, LEED v4.1, provides a data-driven approach to certification, and outlines strategies that enhance building resilience.

One of LEED’s system goals has always been to support the health and well-being of people. It’s why more than 70% of LEED’s credits address health in some way.

Fortunately, Colorado has long been a leader in green building, and even though 2020 was fraught with challenges, green building commitments continued. The industry’s progress is reflected in the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) 2020 list of Top 10 States for LEED Green Building. While the state slipped from its No. 1 spot in 2019, it still ranked No. 4, showing that while many industries screeched to a halt, green building continued. Offices, education-related spaces, warehouses and distribution centers were the primary types of projects that certified.

RankState2020 GSF Per Capita2020 Certifications2020 GSF2010 Population
1Massachusetts2.917619,034,1296,547,629
2Washington2.827418,957,2536,724,540
3Illinois2.619433,475,68212,830,632
4Colorado2.356411,826,9275,029,196
5New York2.2810844,172,68419,378,102
6Maryland2.238812,898,9215,773,552
7California2.1241778,912,60337,253,956
8Virginia2.059716,404,0788,001,024
9Texas1.6613941,749,34525,145,561
10Nevada1.34143,623,8522,700,551
*District of Columbia39.5312923,783,731601,723

*Due to D.C.’s status as a federal district it is not included in the official ranking of states, but is a national leader in green building.

Building and construction across the state is moving forward, and a focus on health and climate action is likely to remain. LEED’s Safety First pilot credits and tools like Arc Re-Entry provide the resources and verification that teams need to rebuild people’s trust that spaces are good for them and their communities.

Accelerating this work also requires a knowledgeable workforce, which is why USGBC also released a list of states with the most LEED green building professionals. Based on the total number of active LEED professionals, Colorado ranked No. 8 with more than 6,300 workers.

RankStateTotal # of Credential Holders
1California26,906
2New York12,575
3Texas10,474
4Florida9,694
5Illinois8,640
6Massachusetts6,901
7Virginia6,612
8Colorado6,393
9Washington5,968
10Pennsylvania5,852

It is critical that building teams get engaged with LEED now. They can register projects to pursue certification and learn more about LEED professional credentials at usgbc.org. For projects not yet ready for certification, teams can start benchmarking and tracking sustainability performance for free using Arc.

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