Last year was another LEED-ing year for the U.S., as the country maintained its position as the world’s largest market for the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED certification, with more than 280 million square feet certified to various LEED levels. China, (152 million square feet), Canada (35 million), India (30 million) and the Republic of Korea (17 million) rounded out the top five countries on the list, according to data from the USGBC.
Using data provided by the organization, we drilled down to property type and extracted the information pertaining to the office sector—a sector that has had a tumultuous past two years, badly hit by the pandemic-fighting restrictions and the rise of work-from-home policies.
Yet, U.S. LEED office numbers for 2021 reflect strong optimism for a return to the office not too far into the future, and strong attention to the environment in which employees will return to work, as more than 202.5 million square feet across 805 projects of last year’s total received LEED certification or recertification.
Here’s the list of top states in the U.S. by the number of square feet of office space with LEED certification in 2021.
|Rank||State||Square Feet Volume_Millions||Number of Office Projects|
The Golden State leads the ranking with a robust volume of LEED-certified office projects. Nearly 43.7 million gross feet of space were awarded a level of LEED certification across 208 projects. Of these, 19 projects totaling nearly 8 million square feet received the LEED Platinum award, the agency’s highest certification level—nine projects (3.6 million square feet) were newly certified, and 10 assets maintained their status. Another 139 projects across nearly 31 million square feet were awarded the LEED Gold certification, 37 (3.5 million square feet) received the LEED Silver designation and 13 projects totaling 1.6 million square feet received basic LEED certification.
California’s largest office project to receive the LEED Platinum certification in 2021 was Salesforce West, an 881,252-square-foot Class A office tower located in San Francisco’s Financial District at the intersection of Fremont and Mission streets. The LEED Platinum certification was awarded in July for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance with a scorecard of 94 points, and distinguishes the asset as the largest multi-tenant office building to ever attain the USGBC’s highest rating.
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The 43-story high-rise was built in 1985 and has been under Salesforce’s ownership since 2015, according to CommercialEdge data. Recently, the property underwent a major renovation—designed by the architects of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill—that included upgrades to its signature lobby, tenant common areas and retail component. For the certification, Salesforce West has changed both its processes—such as daytime cleaning and motion sensors to reduce energy consumption—as well as building infrastructure. The property has an Energy Star rating that attests the building’s energy performance, which is 52 percent above the national average, and boasts a carbon reduction for 4,593 metric tons annually. The parking garage includes a charging station.
The Prairie State occupies the second position with more than 30 million gross square feet of office space across 45 projects certified and recertified to LEED. Two properties received the LEED Platinum award (113,400 square feet combined), 30 were awarded the designation to the Gold level (28.8 million square feet), nine buildings to the Silver level (1.1 million square feet) and four assets totaling 433,072 square feet received basic LEED certification.
One notable project awarded LEED in 2021 was The Franklin, Tishman Speyer’s 60-story, 1.5-million-square-foot asset at 227 West Monroe St. The property recertified its LEED status, improving it from Silver to Gold level in November for Existing Buildings, Operations and Maintenance. The tower was built in 1989 and has been renovated since, implementing technologies to reduce energy consumption, including improved lighting and controls in the base building and tenant spaces and upgrades to building mechanicals systems including VFDs and optimized controls.
The Lone Star State ranked third with nearly 21 million gross square feet of office space across 61 projects certified and recertified to LEED. Of these, four projects totaling more than 2.1 million square feet of office space were awarded the LEED Platinum designation. Another 34 projects with a total of roughly 14 million square feet received the recognition to the Gold level, 16 projects of nearly 3.2 million square feet combined were awarded LEED Silver and another 1 million square feet across nine projects received the basic LEED certification.
Among the recipients of the LEED Platinum award was Indeed Tower in Austin, Texas. Kilroy Realty’s 36-story, 708,438-square-foot tower was completed in the second quarter of 2021 and in September scored 82 points toward a LEED v4 Core & Shell Platinum Certification, making it the second-largest LEED v4 CS project in the U.S. and the fifth-largest in the world. About 35,000 square feet of this project includes the adaptive reuse of the historic Claudia Taylor Johnson post office. The reuse of the existing structure also helped the project reduce 20 percent of its embodied carbon. The eastern portion of the building features high-performance glazing and the western portion is clad in glass sunshades to reduce peak heat gain and glare.
Other sustainable features include on-site rainwater management, low flow plumbing fixtures and EnergyStar appliances, which help save 1.5 million gallons of water annually. In addition to the tower’s LEED Platinum certification, the project also earned Austin Energy Green Building 4-Star certification, and a Fitwel 1-Star certification is pending. Furthermore, the project was designed to reduce annual energy costs by 14 percent, cut down peak energy use by 22 percent, and offset 100 percent of core & shell power with off-site renewables.
4. New York
The Empire State came in fourth with more than 11.6 million gross square feet of office space across 49 projects certified and recertified to LEED. The LEED Platinum recognition was awarded to three projects totaling 1.8 million square feet, 31 projects (8 million square feet) received the LEED Gold certification, 11 projects (1.7 million square feet) were certified to the Silver level and four projects totaling 143,762 square feet received the basic LEED certification.
The largest project in the state to receive the LEED Platinum certification was the 1.7-million-square-foot One Vanderbilt in Midtown Manhattan. SL Green Realty’s tower opened in 2020, built by Tishman Construction and designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox. Among the building’s outstanding sustainable features are a 1.2-megawatt cogeneration system and a 50,000-gallon rainwater collection and treatment system; the latter is anticipated to reduce water usage by 40 percent.
Special attention was paid to sustainable materials, such as including recycled content in structural steel, reinforcing steel and concrete mixes. The project team also aimed to have a 75 percent recycling rate for construction demolition and waste as well as an extensive tracking system to maximize use of locally sourced materials to lessen transport fuel use. The property is also pursuing certification under the international WELL building standard that measures features impacting human health and well-being.
Rounding out the top five was The Bay State, with more than 10 million gross square feet of office space across 36 projects certified and recertified to LEED. Of these, four properties totaling 720,000 square feet received the LEED Platinum recognition, 20 projects (7.5 million square feet) were awarded LEED Gold, eight properties (1.7 million square feet) LEED Silver and four properties (462,000 square feet) received basic LEED certification.
The largest LEED Platinum project in the state was 145 Broadway, the 19-story headquarters of Akamai Technologies. A Boston Properties asset, the 482,000-square-foot property was built in 2019 and received the LEED v4 Core and Shell Gold Rating in March. The tower is the first phase of the Infill Development Concept Plan and replaced a former four-story masonry structure. Its high-performance enclosure of painted aluminum and Low-E insulated glass panels maximizes daylight and views while optimizing energy performance. Integrated systems include active chilled beams, high-efficiency chillers, an energy recovery system for the chilled beams and a rainwater harvesting tank for irrigation. The tower is also the largest WELL-certified building in the Northeast and fourth largest in the U.S. In addition, it includes 150 bike parking spaces and a dedicated bike lane along Broadway.
The Centennial State opens the lower half of the ranking with nearly 7.5 million gross square feet of office space across 27 projects certified and recertified to LEED. Across the state, three projects (1.5 million square feet) received the LEED Platinum designation. Another 16 projects totaling roughly 5.7 million square feet were awarded the LEED Gold certification, five projects (188,306 square feet) were certified to the Silver level and 58,177 square feet across three projects received basic LEED certification.
The largest office property to receive the LEED Platinum certification in 2021 was the 34-story tower at 999 18th St. owned by LBA Realty. Spanning over 1 million square feet, the asset was the state’s first existing building to be awarded a LEED recognition and was recertified in April, under USGBC’s Operation and Maintenance rating. The building is Energy Star-certified—performing better than 75 percent of similar buildings nationwide in terms of energy usage—and BOMA 360-certified. In addition, the Denver property holds the UL Verified Healthy Building Mark, as at regular intervals, the air and filter systems are examined; samples of indoor air and water are analyzed; and hygiene, light and acoustics are assessed. A unique feature of the property is the installation of two beehives on the terrace rooftop.
The Commonwealth of Virginia had nearly 7.1 million gross square feet of office space across 32 projects certified or recertified to LEED. The state holds no LEED Platinum certifications dated in 2021 but has 14 projects (4.4 million square feet) awarded LEED Gold, 13 projects (2 million square feet) awarded LEED Silver and 685,953 square feet across five projects that are LEED-certified.
The largest office project awarded the LEED Gold certification in 2021 was Central Place Tower, a 31-story, 560,000-square-foot tower owned by JBG Smith. In February last year, the project was recertified with a scorecard of 64 points. Built in 2018 and designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, the property is the tallest building in the Metropolitan D.C. area, featuring a 12,400-square-foot observation deck and lounge that offer panoramic views of Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia.
In the Sunshine State, the USGBC awarded LEED certification to 31 projects, which combined totaled more than 6.7 million square feet. LEED Platinum had just one recipient, an 8,502-square-foot facility, another 17 projects (3.8 million square feet) received the LEED Gold award, eight properties totaling 1.2 million square feet scored enough points for LEED Silver recognition and five projects totaling 1.7 million square feet received basic LEED certification.
The largest office project to receive a LEED certification in 2021 in Florida was the 1.4-million-square-foot Southeast Financial Center at 200 South Biscayne Blvd. in Miami. Completed in 1984 and flaunting the design of Skidmore Owings and Merrill, the 55-story tower is Miami’s tallest office property. Ponte Gadea’s asset was recertified to the Gold level in May—previous certifications date back to 2009 and 2015. Southeast Financial Center has been awarded an Energy Star label annually from 2004 to 2021 for its operating efficiency. In addition, the asset holds the WELL Health-Safety Rating for Facility Operations.
The Empire State of the South was not far behind Florida, with more than 6.4 million gross square feet of office space certified and recertified to LEED. No LEED Platinum was awarded in Georgia either, but 11 projects totaling 3.8 million square feet were awarded LEED Gold, 2.4 million square feet awarded LEED Silver and one 182,878-square-foot facility awarded basic LEED certification.
The largest office project certified to the Gold level last year was 1075 Peachtree, recertified in September; previous certifications were awarded in 2010 (Silver) and 2015 (Gold). MetLife Real Estate Investment’s 38-story tower totals 787,000 square feet in the heart of Midtown Atlanta and anchors 12th and Midtown, a four-block, master-planned development. The property also holds an EnergyStar rating.
The Keystone State completes the top 10 with nearly 5.3 million gross square feet of office space certified and recertified to LEED. A 2,000-square-foot facility received the LEED Platinum award, 3.6 million square feet across 11 projects LEED Gold, nearly 509,000 square feet across seven projects were awarded LEED Silver and another 1.2 million square feet across three properties received basic LEED certification.
One Commerce Square and Two Commerce Square on Market Street are among the LEED Gold recipients, both recertified in July; previous certifications were awarded in 2010 and 2015. The two identical 41-story towers were built in 1986 and 1992 and are owned by Brandywine Realty Trust. In addition to the LEED certifications, the two buildings also hold Fitwel certifications and EnergyStar ratings.