Illinois is Tops in Nation for Green Building Per Capita

By Matt Baker

In its annual ranking of green building among U.S. states, the USGBC has anointed Illinois the leader for the second year in a row. The per-capita list is compiled using U.S. Census data and commercial and institutional green building projects that were LEED-certified throughout 2014. Illinois retained its top national position with 174 LEED certifications last year, representing 3.31 square feet of certified space per resident.

nbc_chicagoThe 2014 list featured the highest average (2.34) of per capita space certified per resident per state since 2010, and the second highest average to date. Six of the eight states which were also on the list in 2013, including Illinois, increased the amount of square footage they certified per resident in 2014. Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to make the list every year since 2010.

“Illinois has long been a green building trend-setter where companies have made sustainability part of their business plan,” said Brian Imus, Executive Director of USGBC Illinois Chapter. “As a result, Illinois is now positioned to be a leading exporter of sustainable technology and design to emerging markets where demand for LEED is growing exponentially.”

The USGBC calculates the list using per-capita figures as a measure of the human element of green building, allowing for a fair comparison of the level of green building taking place among states with significant differences in population and, accordingly, number of overall buildings. Notable projects that were certified in Illinois last year include the NBC Tower in Chicago which recertified as LEED Gold, the University of Illinois’ Maudelle Tanner Brown Bousfield Hall in Champaign which was certified LEED Platinum and the LEED Silver Ridgewood High School in Norridge.

In 2014, LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance was once again the most popular rating system within the top 10 states, representing 48% of the total square footage certified. LEED for Building Design and Construction was the second most popular rating system in the top 10, representing 46% of the square footage certified. Collectively, 1,662 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2014, representing more than 250 million square feet of real estate.

The top ten is as follows:


Projects Certified in 2014

Square Feet Certified in 2014 (millions)

Per-Capita Square Footage

1 Illinois 174 42.5 3.31
2 Colorado 102 15.8 3.15
3 Maryland 132 15.6 2.70
4 Virginia 150 18.6 2.33
5 Massachusetts 99 14.7 2.20
6 Hawaii 30 2.7 1.95
7 California 517 69.8 1.87
8 Georgia 87 17.7 1.83
9 Minnesota 39 9.5 1.79
10 (tie) Arizona 82 11.2 1.74
10 (tie) New York 250 33.7 1.74

photo: Geoffrey Fairchild

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