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LEEDing the Way


What was once a rare and coveted honor that was isolated to bleeding edge innovators is now business as usual in Arlington.

LEED certification was previously perceived as a cost premium, an amenity, or even a liability to some.  In few industries over such a short period of time has such a massive market transformation occurred.  A market that includes product manufacturers, waste haulers, architects, engineers, construction, operations, maintenance workers, and more.

Arlington’s Green Building program began 15 years ago.  We now hear developers comment that they build LEED buildings in Arlington as a risk mitigation measure.  Building LEED buildings in Arlington protects developers and owners from financial risk since these assets have lower operating costs, lease up faster, and maintain their value better despite shifting economic winds.

Is LEED certification as ubiquitous as seat belts in cars?In Arlington, it kind of is.  Since 2008 no site plan project has been approved without agreeing to achieve LEED certification.

Let’s take a look at the recently released statistics by the U.S. Green Building Council.  The report lists the top 10 states for LEED Certifications.  Arlington leads in Virginia with:

  • Most LEED certified projects in the state with 122;
  • Most ENERGY STAR buildings with 96;
  • Most LEED square footage with 30.24 million–which accounts for about 30% of LEED square footage in Virginia.

Now that Arlington’s Green Building Incentive Program has moved the market, we are providing incentives for LEED buildings that achieve previously unattained levels of energy efficiency.  Arlington County strives for lofty goals such as our award-winning Community Energy Plan, which lays a framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Arlington by 75% by 2050.  Newly constructed buildings with increasing levels of energy efficiency are one way that our community is going to reach this goal.

While we continue to transform into a truly sustainable community I suggest that we take a minute to pause and reflect.  Let’s reflect on the enormous success and transformation of our building industry and the increasing levels of energy efficiency.  The next 15 years show no sign of slowing this pace of change.  These are exciting times, indeed.

By:  Adam Segel-Moss