32 / BUILDING DIALOGUE / March 2023 ELEMENTS Green Building Colorado Ranks Among Top States for Most Green Buildings O nce again, Colorado has made it into the top 10 LEED states. The 2022 annual ranking published by the U.S. Green Building Council ranks the top states in the U.S. based on LEED certified gross square footage per capita over the past year. Colorado is no stranger to the list and has been on the list every year since the campaign launched in 2010. The full ranking can be found on the USGBC site. The LEED rating system is the world’s most widely used green building program in the world and was cre- ated by USGBC as a leadership standard defining best practices for healthy, high-performing green buildings. LEED addresses holistic sustainability in the built en- vironment for new, existing and tenant improvements. Colorado ranked seventh on the list with 59 projects and over 12 million square feet certified. Colorado’s ranking on the list can be attributed to both state and local policies setting standards for high-per- forming buildings and the private sector embracing green building certification programs like LEED. Working at Stok, located in the heart of downtown Denver, and just over a mile bike ride from the state Cap- itol, I feel a sense of pride and a competitive nature relat- ed to the top 10 list. LEED is important in helping clients understand how to access sustainable goals and create stretch goals for projects in the built environment. Prov- en sustainable strategies through LEED will aid in efforts to curb air pollution, increase zero-emissions transporta- tion options and reduce waste, water, and energy use. Over the last five years, the city and county of Denver has proven to be a leader in efforts to address climate is- sues. In 2019, Denver was awarded a LEED for Cities Plat- inum Certification – a certification program that helps localities credibly track their progress toward overall sustainability objectives. Additionally, the city has devel- oped plans and regulations to mitigate climate change through the architecture, engineering and construction industry, such as the Net Zero Implementation Plan, Mo- bility Action Plan, Renewable Action Plan, a Climate Pro- tection Five Year Plan and the Green Building Ordinance. Green building certification guides developers to cre- ate sustainable and high-performing spaces. For exam- ple, developers can achieve LEED certification as one of the seven options available through the required Green Building Ordinance. Denver has been phasing in its first voluntary Green Code, which models some of its mea- sures from LEED. On the other hand, the city and county of Denver require all municipal buildings over 5,000 sf to certify LEED. At the state level, there is proactive regulation around embodied carbon through the Buy Clean Colorado Act, the Building Life Cycle Cost Policy and the High Per- formance Certification Program. The HPCP requires all general fund or academic projects larger than 5,000 sf to achieve LEED certification or other equivalent certifica- tions. The result is an explosion of LEED certified projects, including housing projects, across Colorado cities, like Boulder, Fort Collins and Denver. In Denver, Hilltop Se- nior Living Facilities is a 324,000-sf facility that achieved LEED Gold certification. Smaller municipalities like Ea- ton are also contributing to combined statewide LEED square footage with Galeton Fire Station No. 2; and in Pueblo, the Center of Integrated Health & Human Inqui- ry reached Gold and Silver certifications. In higher edu- cation, the University of Denver, a private college, certi- fied its Burwell Center LEED Platinum. The state of Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the United States – home to the Rocky Mountains, epic skiing and snowboarding, more than 58 peaks at over 14,000 feet in elevation, and well-known landmarks such as the Air Force Academy. It is also a state that leads to sustainability. As the state, municipalities and private developers continue to grow, it is critical that we address sustain- ability and the health and wellness of occupants through third-party certifications like LEED. Doing so will help reduce the worst effects of climate change and allow our communities to thrive. Let's all work together to move Colorado up the list in 2023. \\ Adam Meltzer Member, Stok Green building certification guides developers to create sustainable and high-performing spaces.