Green building has hit a pivotal milestone in the United States with the issuance of the 20,000th LEED certification for a commercial building.

In December 2013, the Green Mountain Coffee Roasters plant in Knoxville Tennessee became the 20,000th commercial building in the United States to obtain LEED certification from the US Green Building Council (USGBC).

The plant’s offices and staff services spaces obtained LEED for Commercial Interior Certification for an impressive raft of sustainability and efficiency features.

These include plumbing fixtures which reduce water usage by 32 per cent, high efficiency lighting fixtures as well as daylighting and lighting control, and the use of renewable energy to supply over 50 per cent of power requirements.

The plant itself embodies sustainable building practices with recycled material accounting for nearly a quarter of all building materials, work stations and seating. A quarter of all building materials were derived from sources located within 500 miles of the plant site itself.

Green Mountain has long endeavoured to incorporate sustainability and green building into its ongoing development, with the Knoxville plant the seventh of its corporate facilities to obtain LEED certification.

Rick Fedrizzi, CEO USGBC

Rick Fedrizzi, CEO USGBC

Rick Fedrizzi, president, CEO and founding chair of the USGBC, hailed the awarding of LEED certification to the plant as a landmark accomplishment for green building in America.

“This is an important milestone in our mission to drive market transformation in the built environment to practices that make healthy, high-performing buildings a fact of life,” he said. “We’ve shown that LEED works, and the companies and organizations that use LEED set a high bar for leadership.”

The awarding of the 20,000th LEED certification for a commercial building arrives just 16 years after the standards were first devised back in 1998.

The certification system has since become a core benchmark for green building both in the United States and abroad, undergoing numerous amendments and expansions since its inception in order to better cater to complex issue of sustainability in the construction sector.

While the issuance of the 20,000th LEED certification served as an undoubted cause for celebration for the USGBC and advocates of green building in general, Fedrizzi cautioned that sustainability in the construction sector still has a long way to go.

“There is much work to be done, and even as we mark this milestone, we’re completing the launch of the next version of the rating system that will drive building performance to the next level,” he said.