LEED Reaches 3 Billion Certified Square Feet


The U.S. Green Building Council is about to announce that there are more than 3 Billion square feet of LEED certified commercial and institutional building.

Three Billion! That is a three followed by nine zeros or three thousand millions.

In a sense of scale, the Earth is only 4.67 Billion years old. The distance to the moon and back is less than 3 Billion feet (actually 2.66 Billion feet at apogee). It is very hard to comprehend how many 3 Billion is. The word Billion may not be as unfathomable as it once was, but 3 Billion square feet of LEED building is nothing less than a market transformation of real estate.

USGBC does acknowledge that 10.5 Billion square feet of construction space is “participating in LEED” and admittedly that number does add another zero.

It was publicly reported that “more than 2.8 Billion square feet” of building space was certified as of January 1, 2014. Then the organization released that 2.9 Billion square feet had been LEED certified, buried in a February 18, 2014 press release. And senior staff at USGBC have at least twice in public comments during the last week hinted that 3 Billion was approaching.

Many folks are aware that USGBC reports each and every day, more than 1.6 million square feet of space is certified using LEED.

Based solely upon the publicly available information it is clear USGBC is within hours of announcing that there are now more than 3 Billion square feet of LEED certified building (not including residential construction). That milestone is significant because LEED has transformed the way we construct buildings and holds the promise of green building mitigating the negative impacts that human activity has on the planet

Platitudes aside, what does that 3 Billion look like? USGBC tells us that as of February 1, 2014, LEED for New Construction & Major Renovations, the first rating system launched in 2000 has more than 19,000 buildings registered and nearly 10,000 certified. But today LEED is much more than new construction ..

LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance launched in 2004 has more than 6,500 registered buildings and nearly 2,700 have been certified. Significantly, the square footage of certified existing buildings has surpassed certified new construction on a cumulative basis. Last year the existing building rating system accounted for approximately 48% of total square footage certified.

LEED for Core & Shell launched in 2006 has more than 4,800 registered buildings and more than 1,450 have been certified.

LEED for Schools launched in 2007 has more than 1,400 registered buildings and more than 640 have been certified. But that number does not take into account projects with K-12 or Higher Education designated as the “space type” (e.g., LEED New Construction or others) which adds nearly 4,000 registered and more than 3,300 certified.

LEED for Retail: New Construction launched in 2010 has more than 550 registered buildings and more than 375 have been certified.

LEED for Healthcare launched in 2011 has more than 200 registered buildings and 2 have been certified. But that number does not take into account projects with healthcare designated as the “space type” which adds nearly 1,460 registered and more than 600 certified.

LEED for Commercial Interiors launched in 2004 has more than 4,100 registered projects and nearly 3,900 have been certified.

LEED for Retail: Commercial Interiors launched in 2010 has nearly 600 registered projects and nearly 300 have been certified.

The use of LEED internationally continues to grow rapidly. At the beginning of 2014, approximately 42% of all square footage pursuing LEED certification existed outside the U.S.

There is much to celebrate. LEED is now a global movement. But the impact of green building is still very small. For those who believe green building is the ideal means of mitigating the negative impacts that human activity has on the planet, it is time to work on the more than 7 Billion square feet registered but not yet certified.

Article by Stuart Kaplow, appearing courtesy Green Building Law Update.



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