According to reports from the Dayton Business Journal, a growing number of building owners are opting for LEED certifications, reducing their carbon footprint and upping the value of their facilities.

Since the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification process first was developed in March 2000, the number of buildings certified has grown annually. More than 40,000 commercial and industrial projects have gone through or are in the process, representing 7.9 billion square feet of construction space in 50 states and 117 countries. In Ohio, there are 189 LEED certified projects. And, in the Dayton area alone, there are 17 LEED certified projects, four of which were certified in 2010.

Of the Dayton area projects, six are certified as silver projects and five are certified as gold projects, meaning those projects meet more stringent green guidelines. The U.S. Green Building Council’s ratings are based on points. However, the guidelines changed in 2009, meaning projects certified prior to 2009 were put up against different point threshold than projects certified after 2009.

Jennifer Easton, communications associate for the U.S. Green Building Council, said there are a number of reasons why owners are opting to go green. For example, eco-friendly buildings are less costly to maintain and rapidly recoup upfront costs, she said.

“LEED certified buildings significantly reduce consumption of vital resources, such as energy and water, and are healthier for building occupants. … LEED-certification provides a differentiator for buildings in a competitive marketplace, helping to attract tenants, customers, and others,” Easton said.

Click here for a database of all 6,000 LEED-certified buildings in the U.S.