Today, Lombardy is thriving. A patchwork of industries, ranging from agriculture and livestock to heavy and light manufacturing, zigzag across the region. Fashion mecca Milan, Lombardy’s economic anchor, bustles with liveliness and rejuvenation resulting from an ongoing reimagining of those old industrial sites. Lombardy now ranks fifth among European regions in terms of GDP.

As Lombardy continues it’s global ascent, its economy has shifted towards services and knowledge-based occupations, with success under this new economic model dependent on access to skilled and qualified labor. Sound, safe and healthy infrastructures are paramount. How Lombardy builds for its future will continue to define how the region further evolves as a European powerhouse.

The expansion of LEED in Lombardy

On a recent visit to the area, I was delighted to see LEED flourishing and to meet the many dedicated and motivated professionals who are contributing to this world-class built environment. Some of the more recently completed (or soon-to-be completed) LEED structures include:

Saint Gobain’s gorgeous LEED Platinum Habitat Lab in Corsico is gorgeous and is helmed by some of the most ardent defenders of the LEED rating system.

CityLife, an ambitious urban redevelopment project designed by iconic architects Zaha Hadid, Daniel Libeskind and Arata Isozaki covers 366,000 square meters and will be a mixed-use district: residences, offices, shopping, services, along with green areas and other public spaces.

During my visit, I also enjoyed a tour of several other existing LEED buildings that were absolutely inspiring.  

Italcementi ITCLab, LEED Platinum

One of the first LEED Platinum certified projects in Italy, architect Richard Meiers’ pristine research and innovation lab for the concrete manufacturer sits in the heart of Bergamo.The lab features a concrete façade that reacts with ultraviolet rays to break down pollutants, an Italcementi innovation. Plenty of skylight pours into the building while a white membrane roof reflects the heat.

Porta Nuova Garibaldi, LEED Gold

“Porta Nuova” or “New Door,” has transformed an old, derelict industrial site into Milan’s most significant urban redevelopment project. Covering an area of 290,000 square meters, Porta Nuova has created a new strategic center for Milan connecting the districts of Garibaldi, Varesine and Isola through parks and pedestrian zones. The project flawlessly integrates residential, office and retail spaces and has attracted global tenants such as Nike and Google.

The stunning residential Bosco Verticale or “Vertical Forest,” 2014’s Highrise Award for beauty and innovation, was certified LEED Gold. 

Vodafone Village, LEED Silver  

With 127,000 square meters Vodafone Village is the world’s largest LEED CI certified building and the largest in Italy. Vodafone, one of the world’s leading mobile companies with over 406 million global customers, built their new headquarters on a disused industrial area in Milan that has led to the environmental rehabilitation of the site and surrounding area. The roof includes a photovoltaic garden of 800 square meters producing more than 8,000 kWh of clean energy every year.

Gioa 8 Office Building, LEED Platinum 

Originally called The Residence Porta Nuova, this landmark piece of brutalist architecture was completed in 1973 in an area of Milan that, at the time, was being developed as the new business center. Designed by Marco Zanuso and Pietro Crescini, the Matrix “horizontal” style is just one of its many features including the use of prefabricated elements, exposed concrete, glass, steel and wood. The flat roof houses the building’s technical systems and a greenhouse. The old transistor radio look of the building further adds to its charm and underscores the point that, yes, there are some beautiful pieces of architecture from this period.

Clearly, Lombardy is an important hub for innovation in many disciplines, including architecture. I enjoyed my visit immensely and was very inspired by what I saw that we intend to keep the LEED spotlight on Italy and Lombardy in the weeks leading to Greenbuild EuroMed 2015 and throughout EXPO Milano 2015. For now, however, I would simply like to thank my gracious Lombardy guides—Danilo Franchi, Fabio Viero, Daniele Guglielmino, Alberto Lodi, Nadia Boschi and Veronica Dei Rossi—for their hospitality and the insights they shared on the state of LEED in their very beautiful and vibrant region.