The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has unveiled its annual list of the top 10 states for LEED green building, which ranks states based on the number of LEED-certified square feet per person. Colorado topped the list for the first time in eight years.

Here’s how other states fared:
1. Colorado
2. Illinois
3. New York
4. Massachusetts
5. Hawaii
6. Maryland
7. Virginia
8. Minnesota
9. Oregon
10. California

Learn more about the USGBC Top 10 States for LEED in 2019.

Standout LEED Projects

Limelight HotelTaryn Holowka, senior vice president of marketing, communication and advocacy for the USGBC, says many notable projects that obtained LEED certification in 2019 helped catapult states into the list and move up in the rankings. (Photo: Colorado's Limelight Hotel; Credit: Colin Miller)

Colorado State University continues to certify buildings across its campus, and Colorado’s Limelight Hotel in Snowmass became certified in 2019.

The hotel, which features 1,600 square feet of meeting space, debuted in 2018 and was designed for LEED Silver certification. For example, the ski-in/ski-out resort has eliminated single-use plastics and provides reusable water bottle filling stations.

IL Perkins + Will Chicago office grand staircase - credit: Michelle Litvin
IL Perkins + Will Chicago office grand staircase; Credit: Michelle Litvin

In Illinois, which ranked No. 1 in 2018, the Chicago office of Perkins and Will achieved LEED Platinum, while Chicago’s Willis Tower—home to the popular Skydeck attraction—became the largest building in the U.S. to achieve LEED Platinum. “The iconic building continues to be a model for how large commercial structures can achieve certification and transition to a more sustainable path,” says Holowka.

IL Perkins Will Chicago Office LEED Platinum Roof Terrace
IL Perkins + Will Chicago office roof terrace; Credit: Steve Hall (C) Hall+Merrick Photographers

The Shops at Hudson Yards, in New York City, celebrated its LEED certification in 2019, as did New York University Langone’s Health Science Building.

Working Toward LEED

The USGBC’s annual top 10 list recognizes states that are leading when it comes to green building and the adoption of LEED, Holowka says. “States move up and down the rankings,” she explains. This “gives the industry a sense of progress on a national level. We hope the rankings provide an opportunity to celebrate what was achieved in 2019 and motivates teams to go even further this year. The quest for the top spot is always exciting, and we know the community waits to see who will land at No. 1.”

Revisit our content, linked below, to learn how your meeting or event can do its part to be more sustainable.

Holowka adds that the USGBC included the number of LEED professionals in each state (see the above infographic) so that stakeholders know there are thousands of people across the top 10 states with the knowledge of the latest green building practices that can help take projects through certification.

“The Top 10 was an opportunity to look back on last year’s achievements, but now we’re focused on what lies ahead,” Holowka says. “In November at Greenbuild, we introduced LEED Positive—a vision for the development of LEED moving forward. We’re focused on working with the industry to transition away from strategies that ‘do less harm’ to those that ‘do no harm and help repair and heal.’”