Green Building & Design is one of this blog’s main content categories. The following are some of the posts on green building-related topics that have been published on The Green Spotlight or on its sister site (M. Landman Communications & Consulting):

On green building projects:

On green products and materials:

On other green building topics:

A lot of new green building content will be added to the blog in coming months. These are some of the topics that we’ll cover in upcoming posts:

  • Green product certifications, eco-labels, standards, and lifecycle data
  • LEED ND certified projects: Update of completed neighborhood developments
  • One Planet Communities
  • Green operations & maintenance practices for households (and for building managers)

February 28, 2012
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Platinum is the highest rating in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building certification program. Building projects that have attained this rating are among the greenest in the world.*

I recently added newly certified Platinum-rated projects (buildings, homes, offices, and stores) to my online listing of LEED Platinum Certified Building Projects Worldwide, which I had last updated a year ago. The listing is organized by country and—within the U.S.—by state. Some of the listed projects are linked to online case studies. The listing includes projects of all types, from every LEED rating system: New Construction (and Major Renovations), Existing Buildings/Operations & Maintenance, Neighborhood Developments, Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell, Homes, Schools, and Retail.

As of my latest review of the data (at the beginning of January 2012), it appears that there are now more than 1,045 LEED Platinum rated projects worldwide.

While the vast majority of these LEED projects—about 950 of them—are located in the United States (where LEED was created), Platinum rated projects now exist in 25 countries; a year ago only 16 countries had LEED Platinum rated projects. The nine countries that gained their first LEED Platinum projects over the past year are: France, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Turkey. The other countries with LEED Platinum projects are: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Finland, Germany, Great Britain, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and of course the United States. After the U.S., India is the country with the most Platinum projects, with about 35 projects so far (up from 20 a year ago). Canada and China also have many Platinum projects.

Within the United States, 49 of the 50 U.S. states (all states except North Dakota)—plus Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico—now have building projects that have achieved the LEED Platinum rating. A year ago, Alabama and West Virginia did not yet have any LEED Platinum projects, but now they do.

In terms of the absolute number of LEED Platinum certified projects in each state, here are the top 5 states with the greatest number of LEED Platinum projects (at last count):

So California has more than 2.5 times more Platinum projects than any other state—but that’s not too surprising since it’s the most populous state in the country.  On a per capita basis (i.e., as a percentage of population size), Washington D.C. has more LEED Platinum rated projects than any of the states. And when you add in the 50 states, here are the Top 5 with the greatest number of LEED Platinum projects per capita:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. Oregon
  3. Montana
  4. Vermont
  5. New Mexico

The range of Platinum project types is very broad. In addition to high-profile projects (such as the iconic TransAmerica Pyramid in San Francisco, which got the Platinum rating for its upgrades under the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system) and a number of high-end offices, retail spaces, and luxury residences, LEED Platinum projects also include several public buildings and many modest homes and affordable housing developments. For example, there are dozens of Habitat for Humanity-built LEED Platinum homes around the country, and more than 75 affordable Platinum homes built in New Orleans alone through various initiatives, including Make It Right.

* Another green building certification, which is widely considered to be an even higher bar to reach than LEED Platinum, is the Living Building Challenge. To date, four projects have achieved the Living Building Challenge certification: the Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka, Missouri; the Omega Center for Sustainable Living in Rhinebeck, New York (which also got a LEED Platinum certification); and the Eco-Sense home in Victoria, British Columbia. The latest project to achieve this certification (along with a LEED Platinum certification) is the Hawaii Preparatory Academy Energy Lab in Kamuela, Hawaii.


January 19, 2012
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One of the best ways to learn about green homes is to explore examples of real-world projects—by touring green homes or reading about them online. Completed projects can give you ideas for your own home. And we all benefit from hearing about not only the most successful aspects of model projects, but also about the lessons learned the hard way by homeowners or builders who have already “blazed the trail.”

The following websites feature free collections of case studies (or profile articles with in-depth information) on green homes around the country. Some of these sites showcase home renovations and remodels, as well as new homes.

  • High Performance Buildings Database case studies (U.S. Department of Energy / BuildingGreen): Go to “Search Options,” then select “Building Type,” and choose “Single-Family Residential,” or search by location. Most of the case studies in this database are on commercial and institutional buildings.

In addition to the LEED for Homes, Passive House, and GreenPoint Rated certifications that are mentioned above, homes can also be certified under the rigorous Living Building Challenge program. The first home to achieve the Living Building Challenge certification is the Eco-Sense home in Victoria, British Columbia. The International Living Building Institute has posted this comprehensive case study on the Eco-Sense home.

Related Post: A previous post also lists websites that feature case studies on commercial/institutional green buildings.


February 7, 2011
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Among LEED ND (Neighborhood Development) certified projects that have been built or are currently being built (i.e., construction is already well underway), the following have gotten the highest ratings (as of summer 2010). All of the developments listed here have achieved either a Gold or Platinum LEED rating.






New York

  • SALT (Syracuse Art, Life and Technology) District, Syracuse (Gold, Stage 1): Official Site

North Carolina



  • Cummins Station: Gateway to Nashville (Gold, Stage 2): Official Site

Washington DC



  • Beijing Olympic Village (Gold, Stage 2)
  • Chongqing Tiandi Xincheng Development, Chongqing (Gold, Stage 2)
  • Wuhan Tiandi Mixed-Use Development, Wuhan (Gold, Stage 2)

For more information about LEED ND, as well as info about other certifications and resources related to green neighborhood development, see this earlier post:

Sustainable Neighborhoods and Communities: Certifications, developments, organizations, and websites


August 5, 2010
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Several certification programs have emerged to rate the sustainability of mixed-use, neighborhood and community-scale developments—addressing a wider range of issues than previous rating systems for individual buildings have addressed. These broader-scale certification programs include: LEED for Neighborhood Development, and the Living Building Challenge (Update: There is now also a Living Community Challenge program). The programs’ requirements can be used as planning and design guidelines for any project, even if official third-party certification is not the goal. There is also a non-certification framework called One Planet Communities.

1. LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED ND): LEED ND was developed as a collaboration between the U.S. Green Building Council, the Congress for the New Urbanism, and the Natural Resources Defense Council. LEED ND integrates the principles of smart growth, urbanism, and green building into neighborhood design. It aims to promote walkable, livable communities that reduce urban sprawl, decrease automobile dependence, provide housing close to jobs and services, and benefit environmental and public health. LEED ND credits are organized into the following categories: Smart Location and Linkage; Neighborhood Pattern and Design; Green Infrastructure and Buildings; Innovation and Design Process; and Regional issues.

LEED ND can be applied to developments of all sizes, and it can be applied to new developments or redevelopment projects. The first official, post-pilot version of the rating system was released at the end of 2009. A project can be recognized at any or all of the following stages, depending on where it is in the development process:

  • Stage 1: Conditional approval of a LEED-ND plan, prior to entitlement. (This can help projects get support from the local government and community.)
  • Stage 2: Pre-certification of a LEED-ND plan for fully-entitled projects. (This can help projects secure financing, expedited permitting, or tenants.)
  • Stage 3: Certification of a project once construction has been completed.

LEED ND pilot developments that have been constructed include: Solea Condominiums in Washington DC (Stage 3 Gold certified); Eliot Tower in Portland, OR (Stage 3 Silver certified); Excelsior and Grand in St. Louis Park, MN (Stage 3 Certified); Whistler Crossing in Riverdale (Chicago area), IL (Stage 3 Certified); and Celadon in Charlotte, NC (Stage 3 Certified). And a couple of notable LEED ND pilot projects that are well underway are: Dockside Green in Victoria, British Columbia (Stage 2 Platinum certified plan), and Tassafaronga Village in Oakland, CA (Stage 2 Gold certified plan).

2. Living Building Challenge: Like One Planet Communities, this is an international program that has developed deep-green standards that go beyond LEED requirements. This certification system can be applied to projects of any scale: from an individual building to a neighborhood or community design project. (Update: A Living Community Challenge program has now been created, as well.)

3. One Planet Communities: This is an international program that is part of the One Planet Living program developed by BioRegional, a UK-based environmental organization. The One Planet Living program is based on 10 principles in the following categories: zero carbon, zero waste, sustainable transport, local and sustainable materials, local and sustainable food, sustainable water, natural habitats and wildlife, culture and heritage, equity and fair trade, and health and happiness.  The first North American project to be endorsed by One Planet Communities is the 200-acre Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park, California. Sonoma Mountain Village is also registered as a LEED ND project. [Newer post, July ’15: One Planet Communities: Greener Villages and Developments]

In addition to these programs, many organizations are working to advance the sustainability of neighborhoods and communities in a variety of ways. Two active organizations that are focused primarily on planning, design, and development include: Partnership for Sustainable Communities (for whom I recently did some research and writing) and Urban Re:Vision. A number of local, grassroots initiatives for community sustainability, resiliency, and energy independence—such as Transition initiatives—are also gaining steam around the country and the world. Update (added 4/21/10): For a searchable database of “ecovillages” around the U.S. and the world, see the Global Ecovillage Network website.

Click here to download a more comprehensive listing of organizations and websites focused on sustainable communities (4-page, 80 KB PDF file – updated June 2010). The listing includes national, California-based, and San Francisco Bay Area resources.

For other good info on sustainable communities, smart growth, and green neighborhood design and development, check out Kaid Benfield’s NRDC blog.

In a later post, I’ll be covering larger-scale, municipal-level sustainable planning initiatives for entire cities and regions. Stay tuned.

Related Post: LEED ND Developments in the U.S., Canada, and China [August 2010]

NEW Post: One Planet Communities: Greener Villages and Developments [July 2015]


February 22, 2010

I recently added the latest set of Platinum rated projects to my listing of LEED Platinum certified building projects worldwide. The listing is organized by countries and states, and some of the projects are linked to in-depth case studies. As of this month (October 2009), I know of LEED Platinum certified projects in 44 U.S. states plus Puerto Rico, as well as projects in 9 other countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, and the United Arab Emirates. There are all types of Platinum projects: commercial, residential, institutional…new construction as well as renovation.

LEED_platinumPlatinum is the highest rating in the LEED green building rating systems. Building projects that have attained this rigorous level of certification are among the greenest in the world.

I update the listing every month or two. If you know of a project that has officially achieved LEED Platinum certification but is not yet included in the listing, please let me know.


October 21, 2009
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The following websites have some of the most well-presented and up-to-date, free online collections of case studies (or profile articles with in-depth project information) on green homes and green buildings around the country. They feature new construction as well as renovation projects.

These three sources provide case studies and information on residential projects only (primarily single-family homes):

[Feb. 2011 Update: See a more recent post that provides additional residential links.]

The following sites primarily feature commercial and institutional buildings, though they also include some case studies of residential projects:

  • High Performance Buildings Database provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and BuildingGreen. The case studies in this database are very comprehensive; they include information on costs, the team process, and lessons learned, as well as details on the projects’ green strategies and materials. Currently, the database contains case studies on more than 275 buildings, including more than 130 LEED certified projects. Note: In order to get full access to the case studies through the BuildingGreen site, you have to be a member/subscriber (which I believe is well worth the price if you’re actively involved or have a strong interest in green building). If you’re not a subscriber, you can get free access to complete versions of a subset of those case studies (112 of the 275) via the Department of Energy’s database (unfortunately, this site hasn’t been updated for a few years, so it doesn’t include the most recent projects that are posted on BuildingGreen). In addition, you can see complete versions of some of the LEED case studies via the U.S. Green Building Council’s site (select “Projects with Case Studies” on the search form), and case studies on the annual award winners of the AIA COTE (American Institute of Architects’ Committee on the Environment) Top Ten Green Projects via the AIA’s website.

I have written many case studies on green building projects over the years. In addition to the two recent Green Building Advisor case studies mentioned above, I’ve prepared in-depth case studies on the David Brower Center, Berkeley; Alder Creek Middle School, Truckee; Colorado Court affordable housing, Santa Monica; the Linden Street Apartments, Somerville, MA, and other projects. Links to some of my published case studies are posted on MLandman.com.


August 20, 2009
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The new California Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park recently opened its doors to the public. The building achieved the Platinum (top-tier) rating in the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building rating system. Designed by Renzo Piano, Stantec Architecture, and Arup, the 410,000-square-foot building is the largest public Platinum-rated project in the world (to date). Featuring a four-story rainforest exhibit, an aquarium, a planetarium, and an enormous (and hilly) “living roof” (AKA a vegetated or green roof) that visitors can access, the museum is proving to be wildly popular. If you go there soon, be prepared for crowds.

For details about the building’s sustainable design features, go to:

If you’d like to know where other LEED Platinum buildings are throughout the country or the world, click here: LEED Platinum Certified Buildings Worldwide. I also developed an interactive Google map of green buildings in San Francisco, and I keep updated lists of green building projects in the San Francisco Bay Area and all LEED certified projects in Northern California.


February 7, 2009
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