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Worldwide, 2,706 buildings have been declared "green" by the U.S. Green Building Council. More properly, they've been awarded platinum, gold, or silver designations, or merely certified, under the council's Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) ranking system. Of these winners, barely two dozen are head offices of big-name employers, with McDonald's (MCD) among the latest to join this elite group in April 2009.

Obtaining LEED certification is arduous. Applicants are judged by such benchmarks as energy and water usage, environmental impact including recycling, and interior working conditions. Every claim must be quantified and verified. But award winners say the effort is worth it. LEEDers can brag that they've done the extraordinary for the environment. At the same time, required investments typically lower operating expenses, providing a quick return on investment.

When it comes to LEED-certified head offices, no other nation rivals the U.S. Here are America's greenest headquarters.