In the 20+ years since the U.S. Green Building Council first developed its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification, the nation’s LEED-certified construction volume has grown to comprise about 40% of green construction’s contribution to the economy, according to the USGBC’s Leticia McCadden. By 2018, LEED-certified construction is expected to contribute nearly $30 million to the nation’s GDP – a number that may only grow with time, as the USGBC certifies over 2.2 million new square feet of LEED space each day.
LEED is far from the only green building practice or certification out there, either – and according to a 2016 study by Dodge Data & Analytics, green building practices double across the globe every three years.
Out of 5.77 billion completed square feet across 165 countries, over 1.3 billion completed square feet of LEED-certified space exists in the US across 38,353 projects, commercial and residential alike. That’s enough space to cover almost all of Staten Island, or about 23,000 football fields.
According to ABODO’s analysis of the nation’s LEED-certified spaces and projects, Texas has the most LEED-certified residential projects out of any state – 6,945. Almost half of this number are in Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, which also leads the nation for LEED-certified products at the city level with 3,797. California is close behind with 5,255 residential projects, including 2,251 in Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim.
At 2,675, Washington D.C. falls short of having the highest number of residential LEED projects in the nation, but its high LEED-certified square footage across all construction types grants it the title of “LEED Capital of the US”, according to ABODO. The metro area holds over 183 million residential and almost 311 million commercial LEED-certified square feet, or over one-third of the nation’s entire LEED-certified space.
"On a national level, it's not a surprise to see some of the largest U.S. cities leading the charge in green construction,” says Sam Radbil, Senior Communications Director at ABODO. “Cities like Boston, New York, Chicago, San Francisco and San Jose are all at the forefront of innovation when it comes to city growth and expansion. These large cites, which are home to millions of people, have continued to progress and innovate as their population grows each year. In order to maintain a sustainable environment for all residents, cities of this size must find a way to implement eco-friendly developments for both residential and commercial construction projects."
The Greater Chicago leads the nation in the average size of its residential LEED-certified construction projects at 131,689 square feet. Greater Boston is close behind at 131,109, followed by San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward at 122,096 and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara at 107,198.
For the most part, the metropolitan areas with the largest LEED-certified projects are also some of the nation’s most densely-populated cities, and their average square footage usually exceeds the state’s average. Illinois leads the nation in average LEED square footage for residential projects at 109,052, coming in just below Chicago’s average, while California’s average, 45,091, falls short of San Francisco by almost 77,000 square feet. Out of the top ten cities, only the Seattle metro area has an average LEED residential square footage that falls short of the state average.
While dense urban areas tend to have larger residential projects overall, comparing the number of green construction projects to an area’s population may serve as a greater indication of a given area’s green construction density.
Jacksonville, N.C. has the most residential LEED projects per capita, at 4.6 for every 1,000 people. Santa Fe, New Mexico is close behind at 3.7 projects per 1,000 people, followed by Fairbanks, Alaska at 2 per 1,000. Nine out of the top ten urban areas for residential LEED projects per capita are in the South, Southwest, or West, with the exception of the Martha’s Vineyard community of Vineyard Haven, Mass at 1.4 per 1,000.
On the state level, Alaska leads the nation with 0.88 LEED-certified residential projects for every 1,000 people, followed by New Mexico at 0.87 per 1,000 people and Hawaii with 0.5 per thousand.