Now in its seventh year, the ranking assesses the total square feet of LEED-certified space per resident based on US census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified during 2016.
The US Green Building Council, which published the annual green building ranking, says this year’s list has the highest average (2.55 square feet) per capita of LEED-certified space among the top 10 states since 2010. Four of the nine states included in the 2015 list increased the square feet of space they certified per resident in 2016 (Massachusetts, Colorado, California and Virginia).
Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to have made the list every year since 2010, and New York has returned to the rankings after a one-year hiatus.
While Washington, DC, is not included in the list of top states, due to its status as a federal territory, it has 29.04 square feet of LEED space per resident, more than any individual state.
More than 59,000 commercial, neighborhood and residential projects are currently LEED-certified, comprising more than 6 billion square feet of construction space in all 50 states in the US and in more than 164 countries and territories globally, USGBC says.
Green construction is also a large economic driver. According to USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact Study, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million U.S. jobs — more than one-third of the entire US construction sector — and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings by 2018. The industry’s direct contribution to US gross domestic product is also expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015–2018.
Other recent studies have found green building leads to lower operating costs for facility owners and managers, and a 2016 report by Dodge Data & Analytics and United Technologies Corporation found building owners report seeing a median increase of 7 percent in the value of their green buildings compared to traditional buildings.
A November report by the World Green Building Council found green workplaces benefit the bottom line by improving employee productivity and reducing absenteeism, staff turnover and medical costs.
Despite these business benefits, some architects expressed their concern about how the green building industry will fare under the Trump administration, according to Construction Dive.
In a different article, Beth Heider, chief sustainability officer at Skanska USA, told Construction Dive that the industry should put less emphasis on the climate change implications of sustainable construction and focus more on the bottom line.
Considering the Trump administration’s sharp focus this week on cutting regulatory red tape and saving businesses’ money, Heider’s message to the building industry seems to hit the nail on the head.