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LEED buildings
This indicator is measured by:
  • Number of LEED projects (not actual buildings)
Total Number of LEED Projects (registered + certified) 
  1. New York City: 881
  2. DC: 880
  3. Chicago: 767
Number of Certified LEED Projects
  1. Chicago: 295
  2. New York City: 242
  3. DC: 231
Number of Registered LEED Projects
  1. DC: 649
  2. New York City: 639
  3. Chicago: 472
Note: LEED for Homes and LEED for Neighborhood 
Development projects are not included in these numbers
Source: Source: U.S. Green Building Council (May 2012).

Number of LEED Certified Buildings per capita (by state)
  1. DC: 25.15 square feet
  2. Nevada: 10.92 square feet
  3. New Mexico: 6.35 square feet
Source: U.S. Green Building Council (June, 2011). 

American University School of International Service building
American University's School of International Service building attained the LEED Gold classification. Photo credit: American University.
Many people don’t realize that the District has one of the most dynamic and innovative green building markets in the country. The District is a regional and national leader in green building, and has the highest number of green buildings per capita in the country for a city over 200,000 inhabitants. The city’s building owners have rapidly adopted energy efficient building standards—like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) and the ENERGY STAR label. 

LEED certification, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, requires that buildings meet exceptionally high green building performance standards. Different categories of LEED eligibility apply to existing buildings, new construction, retail, schools, and several other distinct building types.The LEED rating system designates four certification levels for new construction: Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Certification is granted based on the number of points or credits in design areas that incorporate the selection of a sustainable building site, the design’s water efficiency, efficiency of energy, sustainable materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality. Meeting the basic LEED standards places buildings at the LEED Certified level, and meeting exemplary standards gives buildings the rank of Silver, Gold, or Platinum.

LEED certified buildings often cost less to operate, and they have a less harmful effect on the environment than conventionally designed and operated buildings. LEED buildings reduce waste, conserve water and energy, and generally use less harmful building materials. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, businesses can stand out from competitors, increase business rental rates, and attract tenants more easily with LEED certification. Colloquial evidence indicates that LEED certification is becoming a standard requirement for tenants looking for space to lease, putting pressure on building owners to apply for LEED certification.

The District’s Green Building Act of 2006 sets forward-looking green performance standards for the city’s public, publicly financed, and private buildings. Publicly owned or financed non-residential building projects involving new construction or major renovations must meet LEED Silver Standards. In 2012, all new non-residential construction over 50,000 square feet will be required to meet the LEED Certified standard. Therefore, the Act’s requirements for private sector buildings, which are the vast majority of our city, will soon take effect.  

The Sidwell Friends Middle School attained a LEED Platinum rating- the first K-12 school to earn the distinction in the United States.
How is the indicator defined? How often updated?

This indicator is a quarterly-updated count of the number of LEED registered projects and LEED certified (including counts of LEED certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum) projects, as well as the number of LEED certified projects per capita in the District. This data is provided by the United States Green Building Council. 

What Influences this indicator?

The desire to reduce operational costs or environmental impact may influence building owners to apply for LEED Certification, as does the desire for market differentiation and meeting tenant expectations. The number of LEED registered and certified buildings in the District has been rising exponentially since 2007 in response to the combined demands of District legislation, a federal government preference for leasing in LEED-certified buildings, and market demand. The number of LEED-certified buildings will continue to increase with the 2012 certification requirement. 

What you can do to help:

  • Learn more about LEED from the links below. Apply for LEED certification for your existing building or new construction project or major renovation(s) Save money and help protect the environmental health of the District by operating a sustainable, efficient building.
  • If you can’t register for LEED, there are still ways to green your building. Purchase renewable energy credits or renewable power and install ENERGY STAR appliances.
  • Add aerators to sink faucets, plug air leaks in the building, and install compact fluorescent light bulbs. Program thermostats to use less energy when the building is not in use.
  • Make sure recycling bins are well-marked in the building.
  • If you are considering installing hardwood floors, select fast-growing renewable sources like bamboo, cork, or eucalyptus for your floors instead.
Explore alternatives to LEED certification such as Green Globes and Enterprise Green Communities. Both websites provide useful information for managers, residents, and builders on improving the sustainability and environmental-friendliness of their buildings. 

Related indicators: CO2e Levels, Waste Diverted from Landfills, ENERGY STAR Buildings

Links to related programs 

LEED Building Certification 

LEED Online  

District Government’s Green Buildings Site  

Other Links 

LEED Registration Guidelines  

“What LEED is” 

The Business Case for Green Building    

“D.C. Among Greenest for Buildings” 

U.S. Green Building Council's Benefits of a LEED Certified Home 

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