Who is “LEEDing” the Way?

Put "green" and "government" in the same sentence and the story is usually about funding fights in our nation’s capital. In this case, Washington, D.C. has been recognized as having the most LEED-certified green buildings per capita. More than 100 are used by the federal government. Colorado is the top state. Governing reports: 

The District of Columbia and Colorado have the most LEED-certified commercial and institutional green buildings per capita in the United States, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).

D.C. easily led the nation with 31.5-square-feet of LEED-certified space per capita as of 2011, according to the report. The council highlighted the renovation of the U.S. Treasury Building, which became the oldest LEED-certified building in the country, as an example of the city’s work toward becoming a more sustainable community. More than 100 D.C. buildings used by the federal government are LEED-certified, according to a complete list of LEED projects in the United States provided by the USGBC, along with dozens of local government, private and non-profit buildings.

The city’s green-building efforts began in 2006, when the city council passed a bill requiring that all publicly-owned commercial projects be LEED-certified, according to a USGBC database of policies in all 50 states. D.C. also initiated an incentive program in 2009 for private and residential buildings to pursue LEED certification.

"This is a great accomplishment for the D.C. metropolitan region and a testament to the drive, commitment and leadership of all those who live, work and play in our community," Mike Babcock, board chair of the National Capital Region Chapter of USGBC, said in a statement. "We also realize there is still more to do and hope to effectively guide the effort by engaging, educating and encouraging the dialogue around the value of sustainability."

Colorado ranked as the top state with 2.74 square-feet of LEED space per resident. Former Gov. Bill Owens issued an executive order in 2005 requiring that all state buildings be LEED-certified, according to the USGBC. Former Gov. Bill Ritter signed legislation in 2007 that required any project receiving 25 percent or more of its funding from the state to be designed and built to high-performance green-building standards, such as LEED. Numerous municipalities, including Denver, have adopted their own green-building statutes.

Illinois (2.69 sq. ft. per capita), Virginia (2.42), Washington (2.18) and Maryland (2.07) rounded out the top five. Delaware (0.03), West Virginia (0.14) and Mississippi (0.21) sat at the bottom.

"Our local green building chapters from around the country have been instrumental in accelerating the adoption of green building policies and initiatives that drive construction locally," Rick Fedrizzi, president and CEO of the USGBC, said in a statement. "These states should be recognized for working to reinvent their local building landscapes with buildings that enliven and bolster the health of our environment, communities and local economies."

An Office Building Unlike Any Other

I had an opportunity last week to take a tour of the Indiana state headquarters of The Nature Conservancy. The Efroymson Conservation Center received a great deal of publicity, justifiably so, when its doors opened about 13 months ago.

Green buildings may not be The Nature Conservancy’s primary focus, but sustainability is and its home shouts sustainability inside and out. You can learn much more from the organization itself, but a few nuggets from the tour of a near eastside downtown Indianapolis building expected to earn LEED Platinum status:

  • Saving the city an estimated $600,000 over 30 years by not connecting to the city sewer system
  • Thirty-eight wells, each 300 feet deep, in a closed loop geothermal system. The result: being able to "access 55 degrees whenever we want it," using traditional heating/cooling as a supplemental source.
  • Utilizing 43% less energy and 83% less water than a traditional building.
  • Taking advantage of as much natural light as possible, with offices and large windows situated along an expansive north/south corridor.
  • Add in a green roof, a "live wall" that features planters in a slanted retaining wall, recycled bricks from the original structure, Indiana hardwoods and limestone, a front desk made from salvaged timbers and plenty more.

I don’t feel I’ve done the structure and the organization justice with this brief description. Let’s summarize this way: it’s impressive, the organization is doing great work throughout Indiana and beyond, and if you want to see for yourself, they’ll be happy to show you around.


A LEED Standard for Roads?

LEED and environmentally-friendly designs are becoming popular among builders of homes and businesses alike. Now, a group is seeking to push for similar standards for sustainable road designs in an effort to preserve the environment. Very interesting. Governing has more:

Hoping to do for roads what LEED has done for buildings and Energy Star for household appliances, Greenroads has unveiled a new rating system for sustainable road design and construction. In development since early 2007, the system seeks to encourage the more than $80-billion-a-year road construction industry to adopt standards that will build sustainable roads with less environmental impact, lower life cycle costs and resulting in more positive societal outcomes. The rating system, which was jointly developed by researchers from the University of Washington and the global engineering firm CH2M Hill, outlines the minimum requirements that must be met to qualify as a green roadway. Requirements include producing a noise-mitigation plan, reducing stormwater runoff and mitigating urban heat island effects. The system also awards credits for voluntary actions, such as minimizing light pollution, using recycled materials, incorporating quiet pavement and accommodating non-motorized transportation. The system can be used for either new road projects or for upgrades on existing roads. Oregon’s Department of Transportation and the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Highways have already expressed interest in the program.

Greening Indiana

There’s no doubt – green has moved into the mainstream. No longer for just the Birkenstock-wearing, peace-sign-yielding, organic-eating population (not that there is anything wrong with that). Just check out the number of people who have rejected plastic bags on your next trip to the grocery store. Case in point, Whole Foods announced in April it has seen use of reusable bags triple in the last year.

And this is just the beginning.

While green is here to stay, how does Indiana fare in its efforts? Four panelists with varying backgrounds weigh in on how the Hoosier state is doing and what the business community needs to know going forward. Read the entire article here.

Also, our BizVoice video segment features David Steele of The Steele Group discussing the developments and challenges in Indiana’s greening process: