Top 10 U.S. States Ranked on Building Sustainability

City building with plants on the outside walls

Skift Take

Much like sea levels around the world, the importance of sustainability continues to rise, with properties seeking to obtain the coveted LEED certification to highlight eco-friendly practices and policies.

There is a growing number of green buildings across the world. Last year saw a new record for the most LEED-certified gross square footage of building space. There are over 6,000 LEED-certified commercial projects scattered across the globe. The top 10 list of states reflects the ongoing effort to reach the goal of reducing carbon emissions while boosting efficiency in sustainable design and operations.

When selecting a destination or venue for your next meeting or event, this list may help you determine which states take sustainability seriously in the built environment.

Sustainability Thrives in D.C.

Before jumping into the list of states, it’s worth noting that when looking per capita, the top spot destination in 2023 was Washington D.C. As it is a federal district, it doesn’t make the list, but its efforts in terms of building sustainability are worth highlighting.

Washington D.C. has a  total of 126 projects spanning 29,677,573 gross square feet of green building space, including the Platinum-certified Walter E. Washington Convention Center. It has almost tenfold the number of LEED-certified floor space per capita (43 square feet) compared to New York (4.6 square feet).

U.S. States Ranked on Building Sustainability (per capita)

  1. The State of New York took the top spot in 2023 for the first time ever. In total, 201 projects in the state received LEED certification, spanning 93,548,624 sq ft. The Javits Center was LEED Gold certified in 2021.
  2. Coming in second place was Illinois with a total gross area of 41,174,964 sq ft across 101 different projects. The City of Chicago itself obtained Platinum certification in 2018. The Sabre Hotel and the Hoxton Hotel are both LEED-certified newly-built hotels scattered across the Windy City.
  3. In third place is Massachusetts, which features the Gold-certified MGM Music Hall at Fenway. Massachusetts has a total project count of 105 and 22,538,269 sq ft of green building space.
  4. Washington state ranked fourth with 91 LEED-certified projects spanning 23,175,770 sq ft. Summit, the latest addition to the Seatle Convention Center, is LEED Platinum certified.
  5. Georgia ranked fifth with 95 projects across 27,473,703 sq ft of green building space. The Savannah Convention Center achieved LEED Gold in 2017, as did the Georgia World Congress Center in 2022.
  6. Virginia came in at number six. Properties worth highlighting include the UVA Hotel & Conference Center and the LEED Silver-certified UVA Inn at Darden located in Charlottesville.
  7. California came in seventh with its numerous sustainable meeting spaces. The Golden State’s standout green buildings include the Gold rated Los Angeles Convention Center and the Platinum-certified Moscone Convention Center in San Francisco.
  8. In eighth came Colorado, home of the Colorado Convention Center, which has been LEED-certified since 2010 and achieved Gold certification in 2019.
  9. The State of Hawaii ranked ninth overall. Among the many LEED-certified properties in the state are the Gold-certified Hawaii Convention Center and Sheraton Waikiki & Royal Hawaiian.
  10. Maryland trailed the pack at number ten with the Gold-certified  UMUC Inn Conference Center and Host Hotels & Resorts among the sustainable properties in the state.