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Recently The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) announced its top 10 list of locations for LEED-certified green buildings. LEED is an acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design”; the USGBC evaluates these 2011 state leaders by per capita green built square footage.
Achieving #1 status is The District of Columbia, however, not an actual “state” – having over 31 square feet of LEED-certified square footage per person. For folks unfamiliar with green building and the technology that comes as part of the plan, the architectural style of LEED buildings is rather stark yet modern in approach, keeping the focus on practicality for functional use and environmental health.
It’s completely understandable why Federal structures in Washington D.C. are perfect for simple, functional and streamlined green building designs providing ample space for a large number of people in one massive workplace. Government buildings in our nation’s capitol need a sustainable environment in such a compact setting.
Colorado thus ranks the #1 state for LEED-certified buildings perhaps in part thanks to The Evergreen Institute Center for Renewable Energy and Green Building. This organization’s mission is helping the green energy and green technology job sector with workshops where you can learn hands-on about various green building including straw bale building along with wind energy, solar hot water, heating, cooling and more.
Next in line are for being on the USGBC hot list are Illinois, Virginia, Washington, Maryland, Massachusetts, Texas, California, New York and Minnesota, respectively. In fact just last December, recognized green building excellence in Illinois was uniquely deemed a winner by USGBC’s new Center for Green Schools in conjunction with founder United Technologies Corporation.
There are varying levels of green building certification, and California likely has the longest list of buildings, definitely with the most square feet (although not per capita). And in addition to a simple “certified” standing, an Olympic-like analogy of Silver, Gold or Platinum may be achieved, of which California has in various quantities.
There are also different categories depending on whether or not the building is previously or newly constructed and separate notice is given to commercial interiors. Local green building chapters are a wonderful interconnected resource network and the non-profit USGBC is happy to “leed” the way.
Clearly it seems government offices and educational institutions stand out in the lead for green LEED-certified building. This unified goal to reduce energy costs with structures built on sustainable platforms is an education in itself to teachers, students and workers everywhere. Step into any LEED-certified building and you’ll see why.
It’s estimated that green schools on average spend an annual $100,000 less for operating expenses, a fantastic savings affording more money for equipment or staffing. Thanks to green building there is indisputable proof that efficient use of energy makes a big short and long term difference.
So what makes a building green? Various factors are considered, including site location (for example, is it near public transportation), plus energy, water and materials efficiencies. And while you may not consider green buildings beautiful, it’s especially true in this case that beauty, and pride, is in the eye of the beholder.
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