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2016: A Year in Numbers

By Leah Missik, Built Green Program Manager

Lately, every year seems to be a big year for Built Green and 2016 was no exception! We acquired data for an innovative post-occupancy electricity use study (stay tuned!), put on a fun and successful conference, secured three new or improved city or utility incentives, had bus ads based on our silly indoor weather reports zooming around, and much more. In addition to these achievements, Built Green experienced a lot of certification growth. Let’s take a look at the numbers and see how we did in detail!

Total Certifications

In 2016, Built Green certified a total of 1,003 projects. That’s the first time we’ve hit over a thousand certifications since before the recession, back when Built Green did not require third-party verification at all levels and wasn’t as vigorous as it is now. This is quite an achievement for the program! In fact, the program has been steadily growing since the recession and we expect this progress to continue.

Built Green Certifications Over Time

The graph above not only demonstrates the program’s growth, but also a shift to more certifications at the 4-Star, rather than the easier 3-Star level. We attribute much of this shift to the city and utility incentives that start rewarding builders whose projects meet the 4-Star level. One of the most popular incentives is Seattle’s Priority Green. Once enrollments in the Priority Green incentive picked up, the shift to more 4-Star Built Green projects was right behind.

Star Levels

2016 Built Green Certifications by Star Level

In 2016, 4-Star made up a whopping 84% of all certifications. Now, let’s see if we can get more projects at the 5-Star and even Emerald Star levels. These projects are really special and ones that Built Green loves to highlight (we’ll have a report on the outcomes of Dwell’s Ballard Emerald Star out soon!). Which builder will achieve the next Emerald Star certification?

Project Types

Let’s take a closer group at Built Green’s 2016 numbers. What types of projects were being certified and where? Built Green certifications are given out by building, so one project receives one certification, but it may contain more than one unit. For example, an apartment building would account for one certification, but perhaps 100 units. The below graphs show the types of projects that were certified in 2016, both by number of certifications and by number of units certified.

2016 Built Green Certifications by Building Type
2016 Built Green Certified Units by Building Type

As you can see, single-family and townhome projects accounted for the vast majority of 2016 certifications. However, when you look instead at the number of living units certified, multi-family units account for two-thirds of certifications.


By far most Built Green projects in 2016 were certified in Seattle. Kirkland had the second highest number of projects, though all other cities trailed far behind Seattle in numbers. We would love to see more geographical diversity next year and are making plans on how to encourage more builders doing projects outside of Seattle to join Built Green.

2016 Built Green Projects by City
2016 Built Green Projects Geographical Spread


Certifications aren’t the only activity going on, of course – new projects are always popping up, which means we’re steadily enrolling projects that are aiming for Built Green certification. In total, 1,105 projects were enrolled with Built Green last year, accounting for 2,120 units. Based on these numbers, we’re expecting our progress to continue.



This year, we plan to continue Built Green’s growth while trying to expand our reach, both by certifying more remodels and multi-family projects and by growing outside of Seattle as well. We’re thankful to the amazing builders and others in the green building sector who have made our successes and growth possible, and we’re looking forward to a great, green 2017!


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