ENR Mountain States continues its 2014 series on "Things to Watch" across the region: projects, people, firms and trends that may have ripple effects on the industry. This second installment offers more of the things we consider worth watching.

Colorado Ranked 8th in the U.S. in LEED

400 projects awaiting approval

The U.S. Green Building Council has ranked Colorado eighth in the nation in LEED projects in 2013, down from third overall in 2012 and second in 2011. But the state certified 124 LEED projects last year, compared with only 99 in 2012, representing more than eight million sq ft of real estate, says Angie Fyfe, USGBC Colorado executive director.

"We had lower LEED [certified] square footage here last year, which is how the council ranks states, but Colorado had a 25% increase in the number of LEED projects certified," Fyfe says.

The LEED approval process can often take 2.5 years from registration to certification, Fyfe says. So many of the recently certified projects would have likely started in 2010, during the latter part of the recession, when more publicly owned projects were being built.

The state now has more than 400 projects in the USGBC approval pipeline, many of them private-sector jobs, she adds. The largest one currently pending certification is the $51-million University of Colorado Boulder Recreation Center upgrade, which is aiming for LEED Platinum. The Colorado Convention Center is also seeking certification under the LEED for Existing Buildings category for its 2 million plus sq ft of space, which would make it the largest building in the state to be LEED certified, Fyfe says.

Some owners have never supported LEED certification as a project goal, Fyfe says, but it is "becoming more of an imperative on some types of projects."

According to the Downtown Denver Partnership, 53% of the total square footage in downtown Denver buildings is LEED or Energy Star certified, or both. Fyfe attributes the growth of green projects to "an industry that is more interested now in human health and well-being."

Utah Will Relocate Its Prison in Draper