Cityhall Mayor Richard M. Daley famously wants to make Chicago the greenest city in America. By one measure, he’s done it.

Chicago now has more certified green buildings than any other city in the country, according to figures I received yesterday from the U.S. Green Building Council.

The council reports that 88 projects in Chicago have earned Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Portland, Or. was next with 73 LEED buildings and Seattle third with 63.

New York was 7th with 46 and Los Angeles 9th with 40.

The only small city in the top ten was Grand Rapids, Mich., which ranked 8th with 44.

Projects gain LEED certification by scoring points in a system devised by the council. Points are awarded for a variety of features, including enegy-saving building systems, water conservation and proximity to public transportation. Architects and others have criticized the system, however, and a recent New York Times story detailed how some LEED buildings do not live up to their green billing.

In late 2007, Chicago had 27 LEED-certified buildings, ranking behind Portland and Seattle.

The rankings are current through the end of August, according to Ashley Katz, a spokeswoman for the council. Through mid-September, Chicago has 92 LEED-certified buildings, she said.

Among Chicago’s LEED-rated buildings are the McCormick Place West Building and the city’s new FBI Building.

Daley has been a vocal advocate of green architecture. Years ago, Chicago’s City Hall was outfitted with a lushly-planted green roof (above). The city requires new public buildings to achieve LEED certification. In addition, public and private projects receiving city assistance must either have a green roof or pursue green building certification.

Daley has also been criticized for his environmental record, however, most notably over the failed blue bag recycling program.

Chicago also ranked high in the category of projects registered for LEED certification. Registered projects are not completed but are either in a conceptual phase or under construction. Their developers register with the council with the intent of gaining certification upon completion, Katz explained.

In the registered ranking, New York City was first with 550 and Chicago second with 499.

The council also ranks states by registered projects. California easily leads with 3449, followed by New York with 1546. Illinois was sixth with 936.

Following are the top 10 U.S. cities, ranked by LEED certified buildings:

1. Chicago–88.

2. Portland, Or.–73.

3. Seattle–63.

4. Washington, D.C.–57.

5. Atlanta–53.

6. San Francisco–50.

7. New York City–46.

8. Grand Rapids, Mich.–44.

9. Los Angeles–40.

10. Boston–38.

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