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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
FILE: A new football center is under construction, one of a few construction projects to upgrade sports facilities at the University of Utah, in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 10, 2013.

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah has propelled itself into the top 10 states in the nation for the amount of per-capita building space designed and built as "green."

There were 31 LEED-certified projects in Utah for 2015, the designation that stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

The annual national ranking by the U.S. Green Building Council puts Utah among the front-runners for the first time because of projects that encompassed nearly 4.5 million square feet of real estate incorporating sustainable features using less energy, water and reducing carbon emissions.

“Utah is a nationwide leader in green building and LEED certification. LEED creates jobs and increases opportunities for Utah’s workers and businesses while contributing billions of dollars to the state’s economy,” said Rick Fedrizzi, CEO and founding chairman of the council.

“LEED has become an essential standard for the transformation of building design and construction. LEED certified buildings drive economic growth, creates jobs and makes communities healthier.”

Dustin Campbell, board chairman of the Utah chapter of the building council, said Utah's new standing in the top 10 is likely indicative of the state playing a bit of "catch up" in incorporating the standard, but also reflective of a new drive to build smarter, more energy efficient buildings that help to address the area's pollution problems.

"This is exciting for Utah," he said, adding that the state's robust economy and desire to clean up the air can be capitalized on for effective results.

While the state is well known for its great skiing, business climate and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, Campbell said he is hopeful the LEED trend will continue and Utah makes a statement with its number of environmentally sustainable buildings by someday grabbing the No. 1 spot in the country.

The annual ranking is developed by analyzing each state in terms of square feet of LEED certified space per resident. Now in its sixth year, the list highlights states throughout the country that made significant strides throughout 2015. Utah certified 31 projects, representing 4,494,301 square feet of real estate, or 1.63 square feet per resident, in 2015.

Among the projects certified in Utah last year were the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, rated as platinum; the U.S. District Courthouse, rated as gold; the University of Utah Football Center, silver; and Ballet West, which earned a gold ranking.

Daniel Pacheco, executive director of the council's Utah chapter, said it is a significant achievement for the state.

“We are thrilled to have Utah businesses and institutions recognized in this way for the first time,” Pacheco said. “This achievement affirms not only USGBC Utah’s mantra that where you live, learn, work and worship matters, but also that partners are taking sustainable concepts to heart as we develop healthy buildings for everyone in Utah.”

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