Green LEED Buildings Getting Top Dollar And High Occupancy

The U.S Green Building Council has a green building rating system called LEED which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.  As a LEED accredited professional (LEED AP) I am always spreading the word about the benefits of building green and attempting to achieve LEED certification. The reason I favor LEED over just “building green,” is because LEED is a fully comprehensive sustainable building rating system which covers every area of sustainability in the built environment. LEED is not just about choosing recycled products or slapping some solar panels on the roof, it is about designing and constructing sustainable buildings in a fashion that minimizes its effect on the environment as a whole.

Unfortunately many individuals do not see the value in achieving LEED certification and believe that the added cost does not justify the means. Even many architects think that LEED is just an added expense, of which the only result is a fancy plaque to hang on the wall. Nothing could be further from the truth, not only is LEED a ranking system that forces building to meet a minimum environmental standard, but it also contributes to the owners pocket book as well. LEED certified buildings are currently receiving federal subsidies which offset the cost of the required energy system commissioning and processing fees. In my opinion this makes the entire LEED process well worth it, but many are still not convinced… until now.

Needless to say, after reading the recent findings from the CoStar Study, I see no reason why anyone would not want to attempt LEED certification. At least one thing is for sure, LEED will be a much easier sell from here on out.

The CoStar study analyzed about 1,300 Energy Star and LEED certified commercial buildings representing approximately 351 million square feet. The green buildings were compared to the non-green buildings of similar size, location, class, tenancy, and year built characteristics to deduce the economic case for green buildings. Compared to non-green buildings, LEED buildings command a remarkable $171 more per square foot, while Energy Star buildings are selling for an average of $61 more per square foot. The study also shows that Energy star buildings are achieving an additional $2.38 per square foot for rent premiums, while LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 more per square foot.Not only that, but the occupancy rates are higher in both as well. In particular, Energy Star buildings have seen 3.6% higher occupancy rates, while LEED buildings are seeing 3.8% higher occupancy rates. These results are solid indicators of the future of the built environment and should pretty much silence the “initial cost” debate.

I believe Andrew Florance, president and CEO of CoStar, summed up the study results best when he said,“The information we’ve discovered is very compelling. Green buildings are clearly achieving higher rents and higher occupancy, they have lower operating costs, and they’re achieving higher sale prices.”
This combined with the fact that the supply is no where near catching up with the demand for green buildings, we should continue to see these types of numbers for quite a while. Also, LEED certification is becoming a component of class A buildings, which means that non LEED buildings will begin falling into class B status, reducing their overall value. In other words, if you are building today, without LEED, you are building in obsolescence.


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