Illinois, America’s Green Building LEED-Certified Leader

by Silvio Marcacci.

America’s got a new number one when it comes to green building among the top states for LEED-certified construction, and this year’s winner may surprise you.

Illinois jumped from fifth to first in this year’s Top 10 States for LEED ranking from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), supplanting perennial winner Washington, D.C.

The list is based on a per-capita basis of 2010 U.S. Census data combined with commercial and institutional green building projects certified through the LEED certification program across 2013 – a whopping 1,777 projects and 22.8 million square feet across the top ten states.

Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council.
Renewable Energy. USGBC Top 10 States for LEED chart via US Green Building Council

Illinois Places First, With An Asterisk

Illinois ranked fifth in 2013 and placed third in 2012, so while its ascension isn’t shocking and shows a steady increase in green building projects, this year’s top rank is largely due to a technical change in how USGBC ranks states – namely dropping Washington, D.C. from the top 10 list.

171 LEED projects encompassing 29,415,284 square feet of space were certified in Illinois during 2013, good for 2.29 square feet of per-capita LEED-certified space. Those totals were good enough to beat out all other states, but would have been swamped by D.C.’s 32.45 per-capita square footage if it had been included.

“The public and private sectors in Illinois recognize that long-term investments in 21st century infrastructure should be done in ways that reduce energy consumption and protect the environment,” said Governor Pat Quinn. “Illinois is proud to be the nation’s green buildings leader, and we are proof that smaller environmental footprint can help us step toward energy independence.”

Metro DC, New York, and California Round Out The Ranks

While Illinois may sit atop the ranks in 2013 due to D.C.’s exclusion, the nation’s capital (and federal government’s green building efforts) had a spillover effect on neighboring states, boosting Maryland and Virginia into the top three, with 119 and 160 projects representing 12,696,429 and 16,868,693 square feet for 2.20 and 2.11 per-capita square feet, all respectively.

The nation’s overall leaders in certified square footage and total certified projects, New York and California, tied for fifth in the LEED rankings due to their large populations driving down per-capita square footage.

Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica
Renewable Energy. Green building image via CleanTechnica

This twist is due to USGBC calculating the list using per-capita figures to create a fair comparison of green building activity taking place among states with significant differences in population and overall buildings.

Interestingly, USGBC notes the continued trend toward LEED certifications of existing buildings through retrofit projects. 48 percent of all square footage in 2013 was certified under LEED for Building Operations and Maintenance, while 43 percent was certified under LEED for Building Design and Construction.

Every Green Building Boosts the Economy

Regardless of if green building projects are happening on new or existing buildings, they’re having a big economic impact. 35 percent of all US construction jobs today are in green building, according to a 2013 estimate, and industry revenue could top $248 billion by 2016.

“As the economy recovers, green buildings continue to provide jobs at every professional level and skill set from carpenters to architects,” said Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of USGBC.

Beyond creating green jobs, green buildings are also saving businesses money while making their assets more valuable. A recent analysis showed 58 percent of corporate America had green buildings in their business portfolios with 30 percent building green to lower operating costs.  Additionally, McGraw Hill research has shown building values jump up to 11 percent with an up-to 14 percent return on investment for green building projects.

That’s all great news, but the best may still be yet to come. USGBC notes 37,000 projects representing 7.6 billion square feet of space are in the certification pipeline worldwide, and LEED v4 has raised the bar with increased requirements for certification, meaning our buildings will continue to get greener and greener – just like our economy.

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This article, Illinois Jumps To Top Of US Green Building LEED-Certified Ranks, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Renewable Energy. Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

US Consumer Support for Renewables – Highest Level Since 2010

by Silvio Marcacci.

Consumer approval of clean energy 2013 chart via Navigant Research
Consumer approval of clean energy 2013 chart via Navigant Research

Consumer attitudes toward clean energy technologies in America rebounded strongly in 2013 to reach their highest levels since 2010, countering several years of declines in favorability ratings between 2009-2012.

This good news comes from Navigant Research’s 2013 Energy and Environment Consumer Survey, and indicates clean tech may finally be established as a preferred option for consumers despite high-profile conservative attacks.

Overall support for clean energy swung from 2012’s low of 44% to a 51% average favorability in 2013. In fact, out of ten technologies ranging from clean energy to clean transportation to energy efficiency, only one – nuclear power – declined in popularity over the past year.

Consumer support for clean energy 2009-2013 chart via Navigant Research
Consumer support for clean energy 2009-2013 chart via Navigant Research

This Just In – Renewables Rule

Navigant’s survey is the latest in an annual series dating back to 2009, and surveyed over 1,000 people in representative samples across the U.S. during the fourth quarter of 2013. Respondents were asked to share their feelings about each technology and their replies were then compared to previous years to show trends.

Without a doubt, this year’s headline simply reads: renewables rule, especially solar. 79% of respondents favored solar energy, a 10% surge compared to 2012 and just under the all-time high of 81% in 2009. Solar energy also had the lowest unfavorable rating at 6% and the highest “very favorable” rating at 50% – not a surprise if you consider 2013’s record-setting pace for new US solar installations.

Wind energy ranked second overall out of all surveyed technologies, coming in just behind solar in overall favorability (72%), “very favorable” (42%), and unfavorable (7%), despite the controversy over renewing the Production Tax Credit. When combined, these two renewable energy technologies appear to have cemented themselves among Americans. “Consumers consider these renewable energies to be important pieces in the power generation portfolio of the future,” says the survey’s white paper.

Clean Transportation Pulls Ahead

But positive attitudes toward clean energy aren’t just limited to our power sockets – they also extend to our highways and byways. Clean transportation options pulled ahead of the pack in 2013, led by hybrid and electric vehicles.

Hybrid vehicles ranked third in overall favorability with 67% of consumers supporting them, up an incredible 13% from 2012, and third lowest with just an 8% unfavorable response rate. Interestingly, the bulk of unfavorable responses for hybrids came from those with a high school degree or lower education.

While electric vehicles came in just behind hybrids at 61% favorability, they jumped 12% from just a 49% approval rate in just one year, hinting the increasing number of EVs on US roads could be making them more attractive to drivers.

Lack Of Understanding = Lack Of Support

Ironically, the same trend of consumers equating more solar panels and more EVs on the road to higher approval ratings may be the reason smart grid and green building concepts continued to rank poorly.

The concept of a smart grid was viewed favorably by just 37% of respondents, but unfavorably by just 6% of consumers – the same negative rank as solar energy. 57% of consumers said they either didn’t have an opinion or were neutral on smart grid technology, meaning the potential for support exists but educational efforts are lagging by utilities.

Smart meters in particular also showed the same trend as smart grid in general, with 43% viewing them favorable and 10% viewing them unfavorable but 47% saying they were neutral or unfamiliar with the technology.

Consumer awareness of LEED certification chart via Navigant Research
Consumer awareness of LEED certification chart via Navigant Research

This trend was most apparent, however, when it came to LEED certification. A massive 72% of all respondents said they were either unfamiliar (41%) or had no opinion (32%) of green building. While this is somewhat surprising considering green buildings could be half of all US construction by 2016, the potential is still bright considering those who knew about LEED supported it at a 4-to-1 ratio.

Seeing Is Believing For Clean Energy

Navigant’s annual survey generates multiple possibilities in the evolution of consumer support for clean energy technologies, but the underlying story is clear: When people learn about clean tech by seeing it in their everyday lives, they support it in large numbers.

That’s a powerful message to throw back at fossil fuel proponents or poorly informed media reports that argue support for clean energy is a mistake, and is a good omen for our potential to decarbonize and build a sustainable future.

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This article, US Consumer Support For Clean Energy At Highest Level Since 2010, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio MarcacciSilvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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Dallas Goes ‘All-In’ On Green Buildings With Mandatory Regulations

by Silvio Marcacci

Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock
Dallas skyline image via Shutterstock

Looks like America has a new contender for “Greenest City” – at least when it comes to green buildings – and it’s probably not where you’d expect.

Dallas, Texas implemented mandatory minimum green building regulations on October 1st in an aggressive effort to cut citywide power and water consumption en route to its goal of carbon neutrality by 2030.

The regulations are the final step in a five-year implementation of the Dallas Green Building Construction Ordinance, cover all new residential and commercial buildings, and create a comprehensive green building standard across the city.

Green Building Tackles Energy, Water, Building Waste

All new construction projects proposed in Dallas must now meet minimum certification requirements from one of three established standards: Green Built Texas, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), or the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).

Since drought is such an important issue in Texas, the new regulations focus on water preservation – especially when it comes to single-family homes. At least 70% of the built area for homes (excluding areas under a roof) must be permeable or capture water runoff, homes must use drip irrigation for bedding areas of landscaping, and must include high-efficiency fixtures.

Commercial buildings are also expected to do their part, with a 20% water use reduction goal, restrictions on outdoor lighting to prevent light pollution, and cool roof or green roofs requirement to cut urban heat island effects.

The construction process is also getting a lot greener with requirements to divert a 50% minimum percentage of waste material is from landfills as well as source 45% of building components from recycled, recyclable, bio-based, or local materials. In addition, developers will have to attend training classes and pass a certification exam to receive green builder certification.

While the new regulations may be comprehensive, green buildings aren’t new to Dallas. The city is already home to over 140 LEED-certified buildings, including 23 LEED-certified municipal government facilities, has 59 million square feet of Energy Star-certified buildings, and Texas placed second with over 36 million square feet of LEED-certified buildings in the US Green Building Council’s 2012 state rankings.

Green Business Too?

But even though green building will help improve Dallas’ environment, the new regulations could also help boost the regional economy. Green building is expected to top $248 billion in revenue nationwide by 2016, and the green home-building market could be worth $114 billion by 2016.

Considering Texas now has the third-largest concentration of LEED professionals in America and building asset values rise when builders make sustainable investments, Dallas’ green building mandate isn’t just an environmentally friendly move – it might just be an incredibly savvy green business push, too.

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This article, Dallas Goes All-In On Green Building With Mandatory Regulations, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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Omega Center Conference Draws Big-name Speakers

by Jo Borrás

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.Omega Center

Next week’s OCSL (Omega Center for Sustainable Living) conference is turning out to be one of the most power-packed sustainability meetings of 2013. Headlining the event are speakers like former President Bill Clinton, economist and author Jeremy Rifkin, Professor David Orr (who I’ve waved at from my seat at the Feve a few times over the years) and an old friend of Cleantechnica, Paul Hawken.

For those of you unfamiliar with the OCSL, the project’s centerpiece is an actual building that’s designed to be entirely self-sustaining. The building itself uses a number of clever design features to generate solar power, cool the structure, and more. The organizers behind the OCSL conference hope to use the building as a talking point to educate builders, designers, and architects on ways to design good-looking structures that are more “in tune” with their environments. That’s evident in the group’s stated mission …

Omega Center Mission

“Through innovative educational experiences that awaken the best in the human spirit, Omega provides hope and healing for individuals and society.”

… and through the renderings and diagrams of the OCSL shown, below, which were provided to the press as a whole by the Omega Center’s architects when the project was first announced. The conference will be held October 4-6th, with tickets starting at $275. If you’re in the New York area, you should definitely check it out!

.omega-center

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.Omega Center Conference

.Omega Center Conference

Source | Photos: Omega Center for Sustainable Living.

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This article, Omega Center Conference Draws Big-name Speakers, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Jo Borrás I’ve been involved in motorsports and tuning since 1997, and write for a number of blogs in the Important Media network. You can find me on Twitter, Skype (jo.borras) or Google+.

Green Buildings could be Half of all US Construction, worth $248 billion by 2016

by Silvio Marcacci  — Special to JBS News

Green building is growing fast in the US, and may represent more than half of all commercial and institutional construction as soon as 2016.

A new report from the US Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED in Motion: People and Progress, details green building’s exponential growth and outlines both the value of the industry and its reach into American lives.

The report is the first of three LEED in Motion summaries planned for release in 2013, and it reveals yet another key indicator that sustainability can be as much an economic boost as an environmental one.

Millions Living And Working In Green Buildings

As a snapshot in time, People and Progress finds millions of Americans benefiting from LEED projects. USGBC estimates more than 4.3 million people live and work in LEED-certified buildings every day, while more than 6.2 million people experience LEED projects every day during their daily routine.

Green building, of which LEED properties are a key subset of, represented around 44% of all commercial and institutional construction in America across 2012, and that percentage should pass 55% as early as 2016.

All this growth means jobs and profits, according to USGBC. Green building could top $140 billion in revenue with 835 million square feet of construction this year, 35% of all US construction jobs today are in green building, and industry revenue could top $248 billion by 2016.

LEED in Motion green professionals

LEED in Motion green professionals graphic via US Green Building Council
While Washington, DC has long led the US in per-capita LEED certifications, that may be set to change, as California and New York State took the lead with the most LEED professionals and USGBC members. Fitting, considering California’s place as the epicenter of America’s clean tech market and New York City’s success with energy efficiency retrofits.

Commercial Buildings Lead, But Residential Projects On The Upswing

USGBC’s findings echo the results of McGraw Hill Construction’s “Green Retail and Hospitality SmartMarket Report released earlier this year, which estimated more than half of all new retail, restaurant, and hotel construction would be green building projects by 2015, boosting values anywhere from 7%-11%.

Commercial buildings have traditionally led the green building charge, but residential properties are also growing fast. USGBC finds 93,120 bedrooms in 10,174 LEED-certified single-family homes and 1,236 LEED-certified multifamily buildings. Previous market research has predicted residential green building projects could be worth up to $114 billion industry-wide by 2016.

LEED in Motion graphic

LEED in Motion graphic via US Green Building Council

From Novelty To Norm

This growing exposure to green buildings and sustainable design seems like it’s starting to move LEED certifications from novel to must-have. “The new LEED in Motion report reflects that incredible cross-section of people – diverse in background, geography, and vocation – who are working together to fulfill USGBC’s mission of a sustainably built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC CEO.

Indeed, growth rates for green businesses have risen faster than conventional goods in America, and every day brings another US green building first, from the first LEED-certified National Football League stadium to the world’s largest net-zero building.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.