Texas ranked tenth in the nation for the most green building last year, according to the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which assesses states annually according to the amount of their new construction that is certified LEED (for Leadership in Energy and Environment Design). In 2012, Texas had over 36 million square feet.
USGBC bills itself as a non-profit “committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through … green buildings.” They developed LEED certification in 1998 and have certified 2.2 billion square feet of space worldwide as of 2012. Environmentally-conscious buildings boast lower operating costs, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and greater infrastructural safety, among other things.
In order for a commercial building to receive LEED certification, it must earn at least 40 points on a 110-point rating system. For homes, the minimum is 45 points out of 136.
The annual top 10 list is created by looking at a state’s per capita LEED-certified square footage. Last year, Texas built 1.43 square feet per resident. Here are some of Texas’s greatest and greenest building projects from last year:
The Dallas Convention Center Hotel
LEED Certification: Gold, May 2012
Overview: The 23-story Omni behemoth opened its doors in 2011, featuring 1001 guest rooms, meeting spaces, ballrooms, restaurants, and shops. It is located in downtown Dallas and connected to the Convention Center via a skybridge. This is the first LEED gold-certified hotel in Texas.
Green Features: Reflective glass exterior to minimize solar heat gain, recycled and local construction materials, 25,000-gallon cistern for capturing rainwater.
The Student Activity Center at the University of Texas at Austin
LEED Certification: Gold, April 2012
Overview: The two-year-old activity center is located in the center of campus and contains restaurants, study spaces, student organization offices, meeting rooms, and an auditorium. It is the first LEED-certified building on campus.
Green Features: Green roofs to reduce flooding and collect rain water, CO2 monitors in all assembly spaces, 75% construction waste recycled.
L. T. Cunningham Elementary School, Houston, Texas
LEED Certification: Gold, July 2012
Overview: The 84,500 square foot facility, located in a diverse neighborhood in Houston, houses 750 students ranging from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade.
Green Features: Solar shading devices and roof overhangs to reduce heat gain, building placement that minimizes its footprint on the site, low flow plumbing fixtures that increase water efficiency.