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LEED buildings top 1 billion square feet globally

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The U.S. Green Building Council said the total footprint of commercial projects certified under its LEED green rating system has surpassed one billion square feet.

The U.S. Green Building Council said on Friday that the total footprint of commercial projects certified under its LEED green rating system surpassed one billion square feet this month.

The milestone demonstrates increased traction for constructing and operating buildings more efficiency, from reduced energy usage to improved water conservation to safer building materials.

The USGBC says another six billion square feet of projects are registered for LEED certification and already in the works.

But the question is whether LEED can evolve to be a more comprehensive certification. Currently, LEED is a construction certification -- that is, build a green building and meet requirements and receive LEED certification. Currently, there's no follow-up to see if the building is still operating efficiently.

Detractors of LEED say that a building's operations can easily run off the rails and dilute a LEED certification, which effectively documents a point in time.

Proponents of LEED acknowledge the holes, but say LEED remains a major step forward and sets the foundation (no pun intended) for greener operations, even if the certification proper doesn't take the lifecycle of the building into consideration.

To date, the LEED program has certified more than 36,000 commercial projects and 38,000 single-family homes.

More on LEED in a video:

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Andrew Nusca

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Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure