Today, the U.S. Green Building Council released its annual List of the top 10 states for LEED certification in 2014.

Now in its fifth year, the List has become much anticipated. While some chuckle at a measure of “per capita square footage” (i.e., using U.S. Census data and including all commercial and institutional green building projects certified throughout 2014 to determine how many square feet were LEED certified in each state for each man, woman and child), there is valuable information to be gleaned from reviewing the List, including looking for business opportunities among the fun benchmark.

Among the extremely useful information is that green building is no longer only about erecting new high performance buildings. In 2014, LEED for Existing Building Operations and Maintenance was once again the most popular rating system within the top 10 states, with existing buildings representing 48% of the total square footage certified. The LEED for Building Design and Construction category (including New Construction, Core & Shell, Schools, Retail, Hospitality, Data Centers, Warehouses and Healthcare) cumulatively represented 46% of the square footage certified. And the remaining 6% of total square footage certified in 2014 was Interior Design and Construction.

Illinois retained its top national position for the second year in a row, with 174 LEED certifications representing 3.31 square feet of LEED certified space per resident.

Maryland and Virginia have helped the mid-Atlantic region remain the epicenter of green building across the country. Washington, D.C., which is not included on the list (because it is not a state), is notable as it continues to lead the nation with 29.44 square feet of space per resident certified in 2014. Maryland and Virginia finished third and fourth respectively, and both states increased their per capita totals to 2.70 and 2.33 square feet of LEED space per resident in 2014.

Demonstrating that LEED continues to thrive, the 2014’s List had 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 (IL, CO, MD, VA, MA and HI), which were also on the list in 2013, increased the amount of square feet of space they certified per resident in 2014.

Illinois and Colorado are the only two states to make the list every year since 2010. Two newcomers to the list are Georgia and Arizona.  

Collectively, 1,662 commercial and institutional projects became LEED certified within the top 10 states in 2014, representing 251.7 million square feet of real estate. Worldwide, 4,502 projects were certified in 2014, representing 675.7 million square feet.

More than 24,000 projects representing 3.5 billion square feet of space have been LEED certified to date, with another 38,400 projects representing 8.2 billion square feet in the pipeline for certification.

None of these statistics include the LEED For Homes rating system and the more than 63,000 residential units have been Homes certified.

And yes, this post is about the past, about what happened last year, but the most significant ‘take away’ from the List is that there is a huge business opportunity in green building when every day, more than 1.7 million square feet of space is LEED certified.

Graphic courtesy of USGBC