Illinois boasts an active green building industry
and recently made the USGBC’s 2012 list of the top
states for implementation of the LEED green
building rating system. The Illinois chapter of the
USGBC counted 137 members who manufacture or
distribute green building products as of early 2014,
in addition to hundreds of local consulting, architec-
tural and engineering firms with green building ex-
pertise. Many of these companies are small
businesses that are well placed to take advantage
of growing export markets for their products and
Sustainable construction materials and interior
furnishings, efficient HVAC systems and compo-
nents, energy-efficient lighting and water conserva-
tion solutions are just a few of the green building
products offered by Illinois companies. Demand for
these products, in addition to Illinois-based design
and engineering expertise, is increasing around the
globe as US green building standards continue to
The Illinois SBDC International Trade Center at
the Industrial Council of Nearwest Chicago recently
identified the top international markets for US green
building products and services. The emerging mar-
kets of China, the United Arab Emirates, Brazil,
India and Mexico rank alongside Canada as the
world’s leading markets for usage of LEED green
building standards outside the US. In addition, The
highest growth in LEED certified projects in recent
years has occurred in developing markets, with
China, India and Brazil adding a total of 176 LEED
certified projects in the first 11 months of 2013.
Drive toward certification
highest in Asia
While markets with a high number of LEED proj-
ects naturally have demand for related green build-
ing products and services, markets in which official
certification of these LEED projects is common may
have even greater demand for them. A building can
be registered as a LEED project as early as during
the design phase. However, official certification of a
LEED rating comes later in the process and incurs
additional costs, so a number of projects that are
registered may never actually get certified, especially
in foreign markets. Markets in which certification is
more common are therefore more likely to have
greater demand for later-stage green building prod-
ucts and services such as sustainable interior fin-
ishes and furniture.
Next to Canada, Asian markets have the highest
rate of certification of LEED registered projects. Sin-
gapore leads the region with 61% of all LEED proj-
ects in the market certified as of November 2013,
followed by Japan at 55%, Taiwan at 52% and
Hong Kong at 46% of all projects. China is a relative
exception to this regional trend with just over one
quarter of total projects certified.
The rate of certification of registered projects is
lowest in the Middle East region, where LEED stan-
dard usage has nonetheless been growing since
Despite having the third highest number of
LEED projects in the world, the United Arab Emi-
rates had a certification rate of just 13%. Similar
rates prevail in Qatar (15%), Saudi Arabia (4%),
Jordan (10%) and Bahrain (9%). In addition, none
of the 25 registered LEED projects in Oman have
been certified.
This is largely due to the more recent nature of
building growth in these markets. LEED projects in
the UAE are overwhelmingly “New Construction”
indicating that many of the registered proj-
ects not yet certified there are still in the process of
being built and don’t qualify for certification yet.
This may imply healthy future demand for later-
stage US green building products in these markets.
The rate of certification in Latin American mar-
kets is also lower than in Asia or Europe. The lower
overall certification rates in the region are not nec-
essarily due to recent construction booms, however.
By Laura Flamm, Illinois SBDC International Trade Center