Jameson Simpson

From April 20 through April 23, 95 LEED-certified projects came online, adding nearly 2.2 million square feet of certified space to the nation’s approximately 1.9 billion square feet of certified green space. A module on the U.S. Green Building Council’s website allows visitors to track the day-to-day movement in LEED certifications. Over the course of that week this past April, 204 projects earned LEED certification.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is good with statistics, a characteristic that has served the organization well. Late in March, the USGBC announced that High Island, Texas’s Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge was certified LEED Gold—making it the 12,000th commercial project to earn the distinction of one of the levels of certification.

There’s another way to measure the growth of LEED: through the headlines. Since its inception in 1998, LEED’s appearance in news stories has grown from a soft buzz to a dull roar. A search of the Lexis-Nexis news database turned up just five results for “LEED-certified” from 1998 through 2000. That number grew by nearly an order of magnitude every two-year period thereafter: 97 results in 2001–02; 600 results in 2003–04; and 1,539 results in 2005–06. By 2008, there are more appearances of “LEED-certified” in news stories than the database can return.

The conversation around LEED is often overstated, but with increased visibility comes increased scrutiny. This is a boon for those who want more certification, as the U.S. Green Building Council prepares to release LEED 2012.