Friday, July 27, 2012

Two Billion or Bust: LEED Square Footage Tips the Scales

Brendan Owens, LEED AP, P.E.
Vice President, LEED Technical Development
U.S. Green Building Council

Ever been to New York, NY? Picture the island of Manhattan in your mind (or Google’s). Now multiply that by three. Or, picture the entire District of Columbia.

Both are roughly equivalent to two billion square feet – the amount of LEED-certified space that now exists around the world, a milestone that we announced yesterday. And while it’s difficult to conceptualize so much space, I think we can all agree that it’s a milestone worthy of celebration – and one to which so many people, from architects to project managers to building inhabitants – have contributed.

To exemplify that point, let’s take a peak at some of the recent certifications:
  • Google’s LEED Platinum office in Mumbai, India, a commercial interiors project
  • A new construction project in Lem, Denmark: the LEED Platinum Vestas Technology Center
  • LEED Gold Warrensburg Elementary School in Warrensburg, Missouri
  • LEED Platinum Ernst & Young Plaza in Los Angeles, California, an existing buildings project
  • LEED Platinum University of California Irvine Medical Education Building in Irvine, California

Two billion is a great benchmark for LEED’s growth. Twelve years ago, LEED started as a singular rating system for new construction projects. Now, LEED encompasses a suite of rating systems that touches just about every possible building type, from hospitals to our homes, offices to outlet malls. We’re certifying two million square feet of commercial LEED space every single day in 130 countries. There are 50,000 LEED-certified and LEED-registered projects, comprising a grand total of nine billion square feet. And if that isn’t enough to blow your mind, perhaps the 22,000 LEED for Homes certified units will. (51% of which are in the affordable housing sector!) In twelve years, LEED has made more than a splash in the marketplace (cannonball, anyone?), which would have never been possible without the continued input and involvement of a vast array of industries. Today, LEED is a rating system that more than 1,200 companies, from architecture firms to product manufacturers to Fortune 500 companies, are willing to stand behind.

To all of you LEED users out there, whether your certified project was a commercial building that accounts for hundreds of thousands of square feet, or a small storefront of just a couple hundred, we applaud you - and we thank you. Green building is our collective movement, and no matter how far you moved the needle, you’ve helped tip the scales to two billion square feet. One billion = big. But two billion? It’s safe to say that LEED has grown larger than we ever imagined in the early days, and now, it’s difficult to imagine a built world without it.

All this amazing work notwithstanding – let’s all agree that this is just the beginning!

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