RICHMOND — Virginia ranked eighth on a list of the top 10 states for green building.
The report by the U.S. Green Building Council finds Virginia had 95 projects, equaling 1.88 million square feet certified for LEED status. Over the last decade, the state has consistently been on the list, even ranking among the top five states.
Ryan Snow, South Atlantic and South Central regional director for the council, noted the public and private sectors, along with higher education have made great strides in green building in Virginia, and noted more reasons why the state is routinely ranked on the list.
“Thirty-five percent of the projects that were certified under the LEED for existing buildings rating system,” Snow explained. “To me, this is a signal that the Virginia market is not only looking at what we’re doing with construction and new development, but really looking at that long-term investment.”
One notable project Snow pointed out is the Macon and Joan Brock Classroom, operated by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, which has certified LEED Platinum status. He believes the building is a great example of new construction in coastal areas, given ongoing sea-level rise. According to a 2022 study by NASA, sea-level rise could exceed predictions, hitting close to a foot by 2050.
Because green buildings have more of a focus on air quality, studies show they can reduce asthma and allergy attacks.
Rhiannon Jacobson, managing director of U.S. market transformation and development for the council, finds conversations around air quality in buildings have grown due in part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It created a mass understanding around air quality and the need for it,” Jacobson contended. “And really, it was the first time we were really thinking about in a sense the air that we breathe and being concerned about the buildings that we were entering into.”
Although 2022 saw a high number of projects and plenty of growth, advocates said there is still room for improvement. Jacobsen wants to ensure green buildings are made available to anyone and are meeting urgent needs in the climate change crisis.