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Global green building research reveals surprising world leaders

Research by Uswitch.com has revealed the countries leading the way with the highest number of green LEED certified buildings.

According to the US Green Building Council (USGBC), the construction industry accounts for 40 percent of global energy consumption and estimates that emissions from commercial buildings will increase by 1.8 percent by 2030.

This is one of the reasons many building owners are turning to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings.

LEED certification is a globally recognized symbol of sustainability and leadership achievements, providing a framework for healthy, highly efficient and cost-effective green buildings.

One hundred sixty countries and territories are participating in LEED projects, which cover more than 15 billion square feet, and this latest research reveals some intriguing statistics.

With the number of LEED registrations growing steadily worldwide since the implementation of the certification in 1993, the US currently ranks number one with a total of 124,212 LEED projects.

Outside the US, China is in second place with 5,678 LEED-certified projects and Canada in third place with 3,066 projects. India is fourth with 2,246 projects and the UAE fifth with 2,029.

The only European country to make the top 10 is Spain, with a total of 951 LEED projects. The UK hardly registers.

Adjusting the numbers by population to reveal the top 10 countries for green buildings per 100,000 inhabitants throws up some curious revelations, with small island nations taking the top two positions:

the Cayman Islands first, then Guam. The rest of the top 10 introduces even more new faces, including Finland, Ireland, Hong Kong and Sweden.

The LEED classification system is used for all types of buildings, including offices, education, healthcare, hospitality, industrial and residential buildings.

Despite the generally leading leaders of the US and China, an analysis of the category-specific analysis shows some unexpected winners in individual cities.

In the commercial / office sector, Prague in the Czech Republic ranks first for LEED certified buildings, followed by Zurich, Switzerland and then New Jersey, USA.

For the community, education, health care, hospitality and recreation sectors, the US is in the top three of all categories, except education, where Kuwait City is number one.

Bangladesh, India, is in the top three by industry, while the top three cities in the retail category are all in China.

For the ‘Other’ category (which includes LEED buildings registered as ‘unknown’ or ‘unclassified’ uses and sectors such as ‘military’ where numbers are currently too small to warrant a separate category), Swedish cities hold the number one and three positions.

The standard way to achieve LEED certification is to include sustainable materials, eco-friendly construction, and energy-efficient systems in building plans.

These can include energy efficient lighting systems, energy efficient HVAC systems and low flow water fixtures to reduce utility bills and help protect the environment.

Through such sustainable design, construction and operation, LEED buildings help to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore certification becomes one of the most in-demand as the issue of sustainability becomes increasingly important.

Sarah Broomfield, energy expert at Uswitch.com, said: “Sustainability is at the forefront of many people these days, so living or working in a city with an abundance of green buildings can be a big selling point.

“Green buildings follow a series of sustainable regulations to ensure their footprint is reduced, but making your own home more energy efficient is also key to sustainability”.

In light of this research, Uswitch.com is reminding homeowners of three simple ways they can make their own homes more energy efficient and reduce the CO2 impact of unnecessary heating, as this energy consumption accounts for about a quarter of total UK CO2 emissions .

To achieve the goal of a carbon-free future, such energy-saving measures are essential.

  1. Insulation: Insulating your home not only makes it more energy efficient, it is also one of the best things you can do to lower your energy bill. Insulating your home will make your home warmer and more comfortable, while at the same time reducing its impact on the environment.
  2. Draft control: Draft control is a quick and inexpensive way to heat up your home and the improved ventilation and airflow control help reduce moisture and condensation.
  3. Windows and doors: If windows are single-glazed only, it is likely that up to 20 percent of the heat will be lost through this. Windows and doors provide a significant portion of heat loss, so any measures taken to prevent this will contribute to healthy savings on energy bills.

More information, full statistics and cool infographics are available at Uswitch.com.