Sunny California is at the top of the list—but other contenders are spread throughout the United States, where homeowners are doing their best to build homes of the future.

By Zee Krstic
Westend61 / Getty Images

While anyone can find ways to easily reduce waste inside the home, it seems that more families are committing to a fully sustainable lifestyle by actually tackling the footprint of their home's structure. The amount of LEED-certified homes (or those deemed sustainable by the U.S. Green Building Council) has increased by 19 percent since 2017, according to a new report from the U.S. Green Building Council. There are now more than 400,000 homes—affordably designed for both single and multi-family use—that are LEED certified in the United States. Most of them can be found in California, where local legislation and a favorable climate make it easier for homeowners to plot out homes that place less of a strain on local resources, per the new report. 

The LEED organization looks at many factors of a home before effectively certifying it as environmentally friendly; aspects of home design such as the materials and resources used in construction is considered, including any innovation in the building process to reduce the project's ecological footstep on the areas around it. Plus, officials also inspect important usage factors like the amount of energy the home requires, how much water is used, and its indoor environmental quality. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED-certified homes cut out upwards of 30 percent of energy usage compared to regular homes, with some owners reporting a 60 percent reduction overall. While California has historically placed great importance on ecological advancement, more Americans have grasped the long-term benefits of owning an eco-friendly home away from the West Coast—including those in Texas. 

Related: Four Easy Ways to Clean Your Home Without Harming the Environment

There are more than 25,000 homes scattered across the Lone Star state that harness renewable energy and reduce other consumption levels overall; that number is rising every year, coming closer to California's 40,000 homes that have earned a LEED-certification. New York has more than 10,800 eco-friendly homes, closely followed by Washington with just over 10,500—and the top five is rounded out by Colorado, where homeowners have built more than 8,000 LEED-certified homes overall. 

"One of the most important investments a person will make is in their home, and the quality of these spaces can have a direct impact on an individual’s health and well-being," Mahesh Ramanujam, the CEO and president of the U.S. Green Building Council, wrote in the report. “As an industry, we want to find ways to raise everyone’s living standard, so we need to prioritize the construction and remodeling of homes so that they are not only environmentally friendly, but they also have the power to improve the quality of life for all human beings." 

While all of these families are using less resources than their neighbors, they also enjoy a higher resale value should they need to move; a study from the University of Texas at Austin and the Green Building Council found that homes in the Austin area that are constructed with LEED values in mind are usually worth $25,000 more, on average, on the real estate market. For a full list of states where eco-friendly construction is taking place, and the energy being saved in these markets, visit the Green Building Council's report here.

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