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USGBC Top 10 States for LEED in 2020: Healthcare, Schools, Offices Account for More Than 60% of Green Building Certifications

Parul Dubey on February 10, 2021 - in Buildings, News

2020 revealed the importance of healthy, green buildings in supporting people and communities Massachusetts ranks No. 1 with Washington and Illinois rounding out the top three California ranks #1 for LEED green building professionals

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) released its annual list of the Top 10 States for LEED green building with Massachusetts leading the country in 2020 with the most certified square feet per capita. Across the top states, more than 60% of certifications were office, healthcare, higher education and K-12 projects. This year, USGBC also released a ranking of states with the most LEED professionals with California taking the top spot. Collectively, the 2020 rankings represent 1,171 certified LEED buildings and spaces, and more than 100,000 green building workers.

“If we are to rebuild an economy that supports our health and our planet, we must lead with changing the way we design and build,” said Mahesh Ramanujam, president and CEO of USGBC. “Last year was a stark reminder that the quality of our buildings impacts the quality of our life. Looking ahead, people want to trust that the spaces they occupy are good for them and their communities, and LEED has always been a tool to support those goals. Now is the time to ensure that every building is LEED certified as that is the only way we are accomplishing our goals of access to healthy, green buildings, homes and spaces.”

While offices, education and healthcare projects accounted for a majority of certifications, warehouses, distribution centers, multifamily and retail projects represented almost 20%. Also, almost half of all projects were certified Gold, indicating a commitment to a high level of certification.

The Top 10 States for LEED green building is based on gross square feet of certified space per person using 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional projects certified in 2020. The full top 10 state rankings are as follows:

Top 10 States for LEED Green Building in 2020

Rank State GSF Per Capita 2020 Certifications 2020 GSF
TOP 10 TOTALS 1,171 281,055,474
1 Massachusetts 2.91 76 19,034,129
2 Washington 2.82 74 18,957,253
3 Illinois 2.61 94 33,475,682
4 Colorado 2.35 64 11,826,927
5 New York 2.28 108 44,172,684
6 Maryland 2.23 88 12,898,921
7 California 2.12 417 78,912,603
8 Virginia 2.05 97 16,404,078
9 Texas 1.66 139 41,749,345
10 Nevada 1.34 14 3,623,852
* District of Columbia 39.53 129 23,783,731

*Washington, D.C. is not ranked due to its status as a federal district.

The global green building community is continually improving LEED to ensure it helps buildings, communities and cities to be more sustainable, healthy, resilient and equitable. More than two-thirds of LEED credits support human health, as the rating system addresses ventilation and filtration, daylighting, low-emitting materials, access to outdoor spaces, acoustics and other key factors. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, USGBC also introduced Safety First guidance to address operational challenges and assist with each state’s re-entry planning.

LEED’s foundation, however, is in its commitment to help the building sector reduce its contribution to climate change. Certification communicates progress in support of climate and ESG commitments and the goal is to get more buildings on a path to certify. Using Arc to track performance, USGBC is tracking nearly 56 million metrics tons of GHG emissions associated with energy and transportation, and more than 167 billion gallons of water. The data show that LEED projects deliver significant reductions in emissions and improvements in occupant experience – and the benefits increase with higher levels of LEED certification. The latest version of the rating system, LEED v4.1, raises the bar on green building performance, defining the latest sustainability standards while enabling project teams to continue to track progress beyond certification.

“If we want to make a positive impact in our communities, we must transform the building sector, and focus on what the data is telling us,” added Ramanujam. “By putting data at the center of LEED we’re helping teams better understand building performance, find ways to improve and ultimately find a path to net zero.”

Since 2018, more than 25 projects globally have certified LEED Zero, which recognizes net zero performance in buildings and spaces. LEED’s third-party certification is the industry’s dominant green building standard and LEED Zero expands on that work verifying achievements in net zero carbon, energy, water and waste. It focuses on a higher level of green building performance.

Transforming the building sector to be more sustainable requires a skilled and knowledgeable workforce. This workforce is contributing to the development and advocacy of LEED and is being quickly embraced by the next generation workforce and decision makers. USGBC has been committed to cultivating and supporting green building professionals through its credentialing and certificate programs. This year, USGBC is also releasing an additional Top 10 list recognizing states with the most LEED green building professionals. The full list is as follows:

Top 10 States for LEED Professionals in 2020

Rank State Total # of Credential Holders
TOP 10 TOTALS 100,015
1 California 26,906
2 New York 12,575
3 Texas 10,474
4 Florida 9,694
5 Illinois 8,640
6 Massachusetts 6,901
7 Virginia 6,612
8 Colorado 6,393
9 Washington 5,968
10 Pennsylvania 5,852


More information about LEED certification and green building is available at usgbc.org.

About the U.S. Green Building Council

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is committed to a healthy, resilient and equitable future for all through the development of green buildings, cities and communities. For more than 20 years, USGBC has been advancing green building practices through the development of LEED, the world’s most widely used green building program. With the support of thousands of members, volunteers and partners, USGBC provides robust green building education courses, a rigorous professional credentialing program, and advocates for effective public policies. It convenes an international network of green building and sustainability leaders through the annual Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, and forward thinking programs, including the Center for Green Schools. For more information, visit usgbc.org and connect on TwitterFacebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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