US Still Leads On Green Building: Top 10 Countries

Surprisingly, the US still leads the world by a wide margin when it comes to green buildings – one of the most cost-effective ways to significantly reduce urban emissions and energy costs.

While the US has 277 million gross square meters (GSM) of LEED-certified buildings, Canada – ranked second – has only about a tenth of that, according to the US Green Building Council. China, which outstrips the world on new buildings, comes in third with 22 GSM.

Even so, the world green building market reached $260 billion in 2013 (including Energy Star and other rating systems), and LEED-certified homes and buildings are now found in 150 countries.

Out of the top 10 countries for LEED-certified buildings, Brazil and Korea gained this year and Turkey and Sweden are on the list for the first time. Keep in mind that some countries like the UK, Germany and Singapore have their own certification systems, boosting the overall number of green buildings.

Top 10 Countries for LEED outside the US:

Rank

Country

LEED-Certified Space (millions GSM)

Registered for LEED (millions GSM)

# Buildings Certified

1

US

277

727

54,000

2

Canada

26.7

63.3

4814

3

China

22

118.3

2022

4

India

13.2

73.5

1883

5

Brazil

5.2

24.5

991

6

Korea

4.8

17.5

279

7

Germany

4

8.4

431

8

Taiwan

3.8

9

149

9

United Arab Emerites

3.1

53.4

910

10

Turkey

3

23.7

477

11

Sweden

2.5

4.2

197

Compare this to the 2013 top country list.

Every day, about 172,000 GSM of space earns LEED certification. About 70,000 commercial and institutional buildings are certified – 1.23 billion GSM of space – and 76,500 residential units are certified under LEED for Homes.  And all of this has occurred since 2000, when LEED certification launched.

That means over 4.3 million people live and work in LEED-certified buildings, says USGBC.

This, of course, stokes the market for green building materials, valued at $43 billion in the US. BBC Research expects it to reach $69 billion in 2019.

The building sector, however, remains a major contributor to climate change, producing up to 30% of greenhouse gas emissions and consuming up to 40% of all energy, according to the United Nations Environment Program’s Sustainable Buildings & Climate Initiative.

"Given the massive growth in new construction in economies in transition, and the inefficiencies of existing building stock worldwide, if nothing is done, greenhouse gas emissions from buildings will more than double in the next 20 years. Therefore, if targets for greenhouse gas emissions reduction are to be met, it is clear that decision-makers must tackle emissions from the building sector. Mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions from buildings must be a cornerstone of every national climate change strategy," says UNEP.

This is actually good news, because the building sector has the most potential too quickly and efficiently bring down emissions, while creating millions of quality jobs. Further, the technologies and knowledge are widespread and, thanks to the success of certification systems like LEED, Energy Star, BREAM (UK), the building industry is now aligned with taking action and plays a leading role in many countries.

Read our articles, LEED-Certified Professionals In Great Demand and Energy Efficiency Now Pervasive in New Homes.

Read UNEP’s report, Buildings and Climate Change:

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