The U.S. Green Buildings Council (USGBC) has released its annual ranking of the top 10 states with buildings certified to a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard. For the second year in a row, Massachusetts ranked number four with 13.68 million square feet of space in 101 buildings across the state.
Building to a LEED standard encourages design and construction practices that strive to make buildings healthy and safe for occupants, less reliant on limited energy and water resources than conventional facilities, and less expensive to operate over time.
Massachusetts’ national achievement in “green” building is the result of dedicated, conscientious work by public and private individuals and organizations who have added another element to the state’s leadership in the clean energy economy. In 2007, Governor Patrick issued an Executive Order that requires all new construction and significant renovations of state facilities to meet LEED PLUS criteria, which couples LEED certification with several energy and water saving requirements. Additionally, some Massachusetts municipalities, including Boston and Cambridge, require a similar LEED-based threshold for large buildings.
Currently, 29 state facilities have been certified through the LEED system, which over time is expected to insulate taxpayers from increasing energy and water costs. Meeting LEED PLUS standards also helps the state achieve its goals to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 25 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. One recently LEED-certified state facility is the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection’s William X. Wall Experiment Station in Lawrence, which met LEED’s most rigorous criteria to be designated a LEED Platinum facility – a particularly impressive accomplishment given the intense water and energy demands of laboratories.
Improved efficiency in Massachusetts buildings is a critical element to the Commonwealth’s energy savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions goals, since buildings consume roughly one-third of the energy used in Massachusetts. Energy efficiency improvements, such as more efficient heating and cooling systems, offer substantial benefits.
Massachusetts leadership is aided by many in the private sector who are similarly motivated to act as responsible stewards of economic and natural resources. They often find that attention to energy efficiency and LEED-certification provides a market advantage. Indeed, several recent, independent studies find that LEED-certified buildings deliver financial premiums.
We are thankful for partners such as the USGBC and its local chapter. Massachusetts’ design and construction professionals are key to our state’s position at the forefront of building practice – a role we intend to maintain and improve upon in future years.