Top 10 Coolest-Looking LEED Buildings

Gregg Cantor - Contributing Writer

Posted on Monday 16th April 2018
LEED-certified Empire State Building in New York City


As sustainable technology advances and eco-friendliness becomes more popular, green building projects are becoming more common all across the world. Environmental friendliness is a growing priority in both residential and commercial construction projects, as is incorporating sustainable materials and building techniques.

As you can see from these buildings that have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, eco-friendly designs can also be beautiful. Here are some of the most aesthetically interesting buildings that combine architectural style with green construction.

1. The Empire State Building, New York, NY

In 2011, this iconic New York skyscraper celebrated its 80th anniversary and achieved LEED Gold certification. Numerous retrofitting projects incorporated energy-efficient windows and elevators designed to recycle the energy required for long trips up and down the building.

2. H-E-B at Mueller, Austin, TX

Green construction can exist beyond homes and corporate structures. The H-E-B at Mueller building in Austin is a gorgeous, eco-friendly grocery store. Over 83,000 square feet in size, this building feels like a natural part of the mixed-use, sustainable Mueller urban community. Some notable features include a stunning glass entrance, ceramic roof that absorbs heat, and LED lighting.

3. Center for Sustainable Landscapes, Pittsburgh, PA

With an exterior that showcases a beautiful mix of glass and wood, this educational research facility at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens meets several other prestigious green certifications in additional to its LEED Platinum status. The facility features an on-site water treatment facility for collected rainwater and greywater. It also avoids drawing on the local power grid, as it has its own energy-generation equipment.

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4. Jacobs Institute for Design Innovation, Berkeley, CA

This UC Berkeley building incorporates numerous sustainable design features into an interdisciplinary educational space. Its imposing square shape features rooftop solar panels and tall rectangular windows set into the gray exterior facade. The design of Jacobs Hall focuses on energy efficiency and boasts an energy usage figure 90 percent lower than the national baseline.

5. Exploratorium at Pier 15, San Francisco, CA

Innovation is one of the most important concepts represented in this interactive science museum, and it's evident in the building design as well as the exhibits. Sustainable building materials were specifically chosen for their durability in the harsh maritime location on the pier. Beautiful glass walls encourage natural lighting and provide expansive views of the bay. The roof features a large photovoltaic array, and the HVAC system is designed to use the water in the bay.

6. Olas Verdes Hotel, Costa Rica

Green construction is becoming more popular in various areas of the world, including Latin America. This boutique hotel in Nosara is designed to represent different regions of Costa Rica. It features unique color palettes and integrated décor from local artists, including mosaics and upcycled countertops made from glass bottles gathered in the local area. Top environmental features include rainwater collection and greywater recycling, solar hot water systems, and a footprint that accommodates existing trees.

7. Rene Cazenave Apartments, San Francisco, CA

This residential building brings an aspect of social responsibility to its eco-friendly design. Created to provide housing for homeless San Francisco residents, this nonprofit-owned building minimizes energy usage with hydronic heating, solar panels, and high-efficiency lighting. The beautiful white exterior boasts blue accents and a glass-fronted ground floor. The roof features gardens and a solar canopy, and the entire building supports natural daylight, water management, and ventilation.

8. The Broad, Los Angeles, CA

One of only a few museums in the United States to earn elite LEED Gold certification, The Broad in Los Angeles features some innovative green additions: bike parking, electric car charging stations, and clean energy usage. The stunning exterior design optimizes natural daylight and resembles a stark glacial wall in the middle of traditional skyscrapers.

9. King Street Station, Seattle, WA

Even though this train station is over a century old, a full renovation in 2012 brought it up to LEED standards with unique features, including natural ventilation and solar panels. The large outdoor plaza and salvaged materials make this area a beautiful tribute to Seattle's history.

10. Lake Mills Elementary School, Lake Mills, WI

Not all green building examples are large commercial structures. This elementary school in Wisconsin earned LEED Platinum certification for its photovoltaic system, roof vegetation, and drastically reduced energy consumption. Some notable aesthetic highlights include a unique glass front and landscaping featuring native plants.



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