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Virginia ranks third in country for green building

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For the second consecutive year, Virginia landed among the top 10 states for LEED green building, placing third this year after being No. 1 in 2012, in a survey done by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

Virginia fell behind behind No. 1 ranked Illinois and No. 2 Maryland. The other states in the top 10 were: Massachusetts, New York, California, (tied for 5th place) Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado, Hawaii and  Minnesota.

The council’s Top 10 States for LEED (Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design)  highlights regions around the country at the forefront of the movement for sustainable building design, construction and operation.

“In the face of the extraordinary global challenge of climate change, our national imperative to create resource-efficient and cost-effective green buildings has never been greater,” Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of USGBC, said in a statement.  “Virginia has a strong base of dedicated individuals who are using LEED to transform its built infrastructure into high-performing spaces that promote the health of our planet and the people who use these buildings each and every day.”

John Dunlap, immediate past chair of James River Green Building Council, said, “It is gratifying to see Virginia in the top tier of sustainable states. It speaks volumes for the hard work and leadership of the state green building council members and the USGBC.”

The ranking is determined by per-capita square feet of LEED-certified space in each state. The list is based on 2010 U.S. Census data and includes commercial and institutional green building projects certified throughout 2013. Virginia certified 160 projects representing 16.9 million square feet of real estate, or 2.11 square feet per resident, in 2013. In 2012, Virginia had 170 projects with certified LEED status and a total of 29.7 million square feet, or 3.71 square feet of certified space per resident.

A few projects that won LEED certification in Virginia last year include:

·         1776 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington, LEED platinum — the first commercial building in Arlington to earn platinum certification, the council’s highest LEED certification.
·         The Robinson & Merhige U.S. Courthouse in Richmond — LEED gold.
·         Virginia Commonwealth University West Grace Street Student Housing in Richmond —LEED Silver.
·         Masons Cove Elementary School in Roanoke — LEED Gold.
·         First Naval Construction Division Operations Control Facility at Little Creek, LEED Platinum.

Sustainable building is a growing industry in Virginia. There are 433 USGBC member organizations with headquarters in the state, employing more than 255,000 people and grossing more than $87 billion in annual revenue. In addition, there are more than 4,800 LEED credentialed professionals.

According to the USGBC, 1,777 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2013, representing 226.8 million square feet of real estate. Worldwide, 4,642 projects were certified in 2013, representing 596.8 million square feet.

USGBC launched LEED v4, the newest version of the rating system, last fall. The latest version continues to raise the bar for the green building industry, which McGraw-Hill Construction projects could be worth up to $248 billion in the U.S. by 2016. LEED v4 features increased technical rigor,  new market sector adaptations for data centers, warehouses and distribution centers, hospitality, existing schools, existing retail, and midrise residential projects.

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