LEED-ing the nation
In April 2012, Washington, D.C., Mayor Vincent Gray made a statement that caught many people’s attention: he wants the District to be “fossil-free” by 2030.
Does it sound a little crazy? Maybe. But when it comes to U.S. cities that take sustainability seriously and are putting the infrastructure in place to make such a vision a reality, you really can’t beat Washington.
This week, the U.S. Green Building Council released its annual list of the top 10 states for new LEED certifications in 2012, and once again, the District topped the list, with 36.97 square feet of LEED space certified per person last year.
Admittedly, the District isn’t a state, and the large number of buildings in a small area does affect the number. However, that doesn’t change the fact that Washington’s lead in LEED is due to the government’s incredible leadership in sustainability in the built environment. Nationwide, the federal government occupies approximately 500,000 buildings, and in 2010 the U.S. General Services Administration mandated LEED Gold certification for all new federal building construction and major renovations.
At the local level, the District’s success can be partly attributed to the D.C. Green Building Act of 2006 (GBA), which required, among other things, that after Jan. 1, 2012, all new non-residential construction projects of more than 50,000 square feet be LEED certified.
And in 2013, the District will also begin rolling out adoption of the 2012 International Green Construction Code.
“This is a major upgrade to the existing construction codes in the District,” said Mike Babcock, chair of the USGBC National Capital Region Chapter. “As the District of Columbia looks to codify sustainable energy-efficient construction — to what extent we will see later this year — each agency is actively ramping up staff and training existing personnel to review and enforce the GBA 2006 and the new 2012 I-codes.”
There’s no question 2012 was a big year for the District, which now boasts 349 certified projects and approximately 69.8 million square feet of LEED-certified space. And of the 110 projects that certified in Washington in 2012, 78% were retrofits under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system.