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California No. 9 on list for LEED

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The U.S. Green Building Council released on Wednesday a list of the top 10 states for LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, green building in the year 2012.

California came in at No. 9 on the list, but that doesn't necessarily mean that each place higher on the list actually has more LEED-certified buildings or square footage.

Douglas Kot, executive director for the San Diego chapter of the USGBC, provided a reason for that after having a chance to review the findings.

“I have to be honest, I was a little surprised that it’s ranked ninth. But it’s based on per capita square footage," Kot said.

That means places that are more densely developed probably have an advantage in terms of how the metrics within the report were applied, he added.

According to data retrieved from the USGBC’s LEED Projects Directory on Tuesday, California is home to 1,723 LEED-certified projects, out of a total 11,662 nationwide. Projects within the city of San Diego account for 120 of them.

The city of San Diego also had, as of Jan. 16, 430 homes that are LEED certified, including two single-family detached homes and 428 within mid-rise multifamily developments. LEED for Homes projects are categorized separately from those in the LEED Projects Directory.

Kot said he has access to more inclusive data — figures that include some details he said could be lost in the directory. His numbers, as of earlier this month, put the number of projects certified nationally at more than 15,620, with California home to 2,180 of them.

His data also covered the entirety of San Diego County, as opposed to just the city of San Diego, placing the county’s number of certified projects at 266.

“I think in terms of absolute numbers, California has definitely been the leader," Kot said. "It’s just when you start to use the metric of population [density], that things start to shift a little.”

With that in mind, he said he could see certain factors, such as the long-term goal within the state to create more dense population centers — a goal set in motion by the sustainable communities requirements within the state law SB 375 — as beneficial to the state’s standing in future reports like the one to be released Wednesday.

If California’s population centers become more dense, he said, the measurement of the state’s LEED-certified square footage per capita could send it closer to the top of the list, which right now is occupied by Washington, D.C.

The District of Columbia, with a population density of 9,856.5 people per square mile according to the 2010 Census, was ranked No. 1.

For comparison, California was listed in the census as having a population density of 239.1 people per square mile, with San Diego County having a density of 735.8 people per square mile.

The city of San Diego was recorded to have a higher density of 4,020 per square mile, but that’s still less than half as dense as the nation’s capitol.

The listing showed that in California, more than 54.2 million square feet of space was certified in 2012 with some level of LEED, compared to the District of Columbia's 22.2 million.

Behind the federal district in the top 10 were, in order, the states of Virginia, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Washington. Texas was No. 10.

Accounting for all years, the report also noted that California has a total of more than 309.1 million square feet of LEED-certified space.

The LEED-platinum Wounded Warrior headquarters at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton was offered as a local example of projects certified in 2012.

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