Top 5 States for LEED Office Certifications in 2021

A ranking of notable projects in the highest-scoring states, based on USGBC data.

Image by Pexels via Pixabay.com

It is no secret that the health crisis has hit the office sector the hardest, as remote working kept employees at home. While vaccine rollout brings hope to businesses for a return to normal, 2020 was a stern reminder of the importance of healthy workspaces.

The U.S. Green Building Council awarded certifications for 238 office projects across almost 46 million square feet throughout the country in the first six months of 2021. The list below highlights the most important projects to receive a LEED Gold or Platinum certification from the top five states in the USGBC ranking.

Rank Project Name Rating System Gross Area (sqft) Date Certified Certification Level
1 181 Fremont St. LEED-CS v2009 581,284 4/19/2021 Platinum
2 Lafayette Centre Recertification LEED-EB:OM v2009 887,499 6/29/2021 Gold
3 One Vanderbilt LEED-CS v2009 1,660,939 5/21/2021 Platinum
4 811 Main LEED-EB:OM v2009 1,146,559 5/24/2021 Platinum
5 10 + 120 South Riverside Plaza Recertification 2020 LEED-EB:OM v2009 1,574,090 6/4/2021 Gold

Source: USGBC

1. California – 181 Fremont St., LEED Platinum 

181 Fremont St., San Francisco

California tops the list with 61 office projects—totaling some 10.6 million square feet—receiving certifications in the first half of the year.

The largest property to receive LEED Platinum certification was 181 Fremont St. in San Francisco. The office component of the 70-story tower has been fully leased to Facebook since Jay Paul Co. delivered the property in 2018. The roughly 580,000-square-foot asset includes 3,000 square feet of retail space and 67 residential condominiums on the top 17 floors.

The mid-April LEED Platinum certification occurred through innovative design strategies for sustainability, water savings and energy efficiency. The project features an Aquacell membrane bioreactor greywater system, which is expected to save 1.4 million gallons of water every year.


READ ALSO: How Much Does Sustainability Matter in CRE Transactions?


2. Washington, D.C. – Lafayette Center Recertification, LEED Gold

Lafayette Center, Washington, D.C.

The USGBC awarded 23 projects with various levels of LEED certification in Washington, D.C., through the first six months of the year.

GIC Real Estate’s Lafayette Centre was the largest project in the state to receive the award—the 887,499-square-foot campus earned a LEED Gold recertification. The three-building property was previously awarded LEED Gold for Existing Buildings Operations and Maintenance in May 2016.

Located at 1120 20th St. NW, 1133 21st St. NW and 1155 21st St. NW, just steps from the metro’s downtown, the buildings are four blocks from the red, orange, blue and silver Metro lines. Completed between 1980 and 1987, the properties underwent cosmetic renovations in 2016, CommercialEdge information shows. Common-area amenities include a tenant-only fitness center with lockers and showers, a new bike room and an upgraded garage.

3. New York – 1 Vanderbilt, LEED Platinum

One Vanderbilt. Image courtesy of SL Green Realty Corp.

In New York State, 16 office projects totaling some 3.2 million square feet earned a LEED certification, with all but two assets located in New York City.

The largest project to receive a LEED certification, both on a state and national level, was SL Green Realty Corp.’ One Vanderbilt in Midtown Manhattan. The skyscraper was awarded two certifications: a LEED-CS v2009 Platinum and LEED Gold LEED v4 BD+C: CS. While both are Core and Shell certifications, the first takes a more holistic approach to the project and takes into account other factors such as location, transportation, water usage and energy efficiency.

The 1.7 million-square-foot tower was built with steel rebar made of 90 percent recycled content and maintains one of the lowest carbon footprints across similarly scaled buildings in New York City. The owner invested $17 million in sustainability features and state-of-the-art technologies such as 1.2-MW cogeneration and 90,000-gallon rainwater collection systems, as well as regulating insulation for heating and cooling through its high-performance glazing.   

One Vanderbilt is set to incorporate the “SL Green Forward” initiative to promote a high degree of safety, cleanliness and wellness for all tenants, including the recently signed IBM spinoff Kyndryl.

The building will have a single application with access control for tenants, visitor management and elevator call, which will allow tenants and guests to move touch-free from turnstiles to elevators. Additionally, the property will offer engineering controls such as MERV-16 filtration and increased outdoor air, as well as SL Green’s Silent Sentinel, a thermal imaging technology able to read 100 people per minute to avoid long queues.

4. Texas – 811 Main St., LEED Platinum 

811 Main St.

The Lone Star State received certifications for 16 projects totaling approximately 5.4 million square feet.

Only two office properties were awarded LEED Platinum certifications, the larger of which was 811 Main St. in Houston. The 46-story tower maintained the status earned a decade before when Hines completed the property. Additionally, the asset holds the EPA’s Energy Star certification since 2013.

Located within the city’s central business district, the property’s sustainable features include a rooftop garden, electronic air cleaners, energy-efficient harmonic cancellation transformers and LED lights in common areas. Notable tenants include BG Group, Crestwood Equity Partners and KPMG.    

5. Illinois – 10 & 120 South Riverside Plaza Recertification, LEED Gold

120 South Riverside Plaza

The fifth state on this list received 11 certifications for projects totaling some 5.5 million square feet between January and June 2021.

Ivanhoé Cambridge’s 10 & 120 South Riverside Plaza in Chicago was recertified to the Gold level in June 2021 following the same award received in 2015. The two-building property is located in Chicago’s West Loop, along the West branch of the Chicago River and just steps from the metro’s Union Station.

Totaling almost 1.6 million square feet, the 21-story buildings were completed between 1965 and 1965. The properties underwent a complete renovation in 1999, as well as cosmetic improvements in 2015. Amenities include bicycle storage rooms, fitness centers and tenant lounges.    

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