Illinois Tops USGBC's Ninth Annual LEED Leaderboard

Each year, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) ranks the top 10 states for LEED, its green building rating system. This year, Illinois jumped two spots from 2017 to take first place.

The 2018 top 10 includes some familiar faces, with eight of the ranked states having positioned in last year's results. Behind Illinois was, in order, Massachusetts, Washington, New York, Texas, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia, California, and Maryland. Washington and Texas were the newcomers.

In 2017, the rankings panned out a little differently with Massachusetts in the top spot and New York, Illinois, Hawaii, Maryland, Minnesota, Georgia, California, Virginia, and Colorado composing the top 10.

The 2018 results break down in some interesting ways. Despite the USGBC crowning Illinois champion, it actually trailed behind California, Texas and New York in total certified gross square footage (GSF). California almost doubled the certified GSF of Illinois, and it dwarfed Illinois' total number of certified projects at 521 versus 172. However, the USGBC ranks the states in GSF per capita, and in that metric, Illinois narrowly beat out Massachusetts for the top spot with 5.31 GSF per capita compared with 5.30.

Top 10 States for LEED Green Building
Image credit: USGBC

Of note, Washington, D.C., checked in with a GSF per capita of 61.74, which would put it overwhelmingly in first place. The USGBC does not rank the District, though, since it is a federal territory. The USGBC noted that Washington, D.C., was the world's first city to be LEED certified in 2017 when it registered 39.83 certified GSF per capita.

Cities have proved to be focal points for LEED-certified buildings. The USGBC said nine of 2018's top 10 states contain LEED-certified cities, such as Chicago, Seattle, and Austin.

The top 10 combined for 1,826 projects and contained almost two-thirds (63 percent) of the total LEED projects (2,886) in the United States. The top 10 combined for 468.85 million GSF, which was 76 percent of the total 615.27 million GSF in the United States.

Top 10 States for LEED Details
Image credit: USGBC

This is all up from the 2017 data, which registered 2,647 total projects and 484.56 million certified GSF. Year over year, across the United States, more LEED certified projects were constructed, and they grew in size on average.

The USGBC projects that green building will continue to grow through 2021, and it said client demand drives LEED adoption as owners seek to promote occupant health and well-being.

This is the list's ninth year, and it considered commercial and institutional projects that were certified through 2018.

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