Superior Performance

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Two recently released studies confirm what sustainability advocates have been saying for some time: Green-certified buildings outperform their conventional counterparts across a wide variety of metrics, including energy saving, occupancy rates, sales price and rental rates.

A study by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) finds that new buildings certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification system are, on average, performing 25% to 30% better than non-LEED certified buildings in terms of energy use. The study also demonstrates that there is a correlation between increasing levels of LEED certification and increased energy savings, with Gold and Platinum LEED-certified facilities reporting average energy savings approaching 50%.

“The NBI study confirms that newly constructed LEED-certified buildings use significantly less energy than their conventional counterparts, and that they perform better overall,” said Brendan Owens, VP, LEED Technical Development, USGBC.

In addition, the report underscores that monitoring a building’s ongoing operations and maintenance (as required in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program) is equally key.

“Buildings are complicated systems, and achieving and maintaining high performance is a process that requires the ongoing discipline and commitment to green practices,” Owens said.

Energy savings under the ENERGY STAR program are equally impressive. Buildings that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation use an average of almost 40% less energy than average buildings and emit 35% less carbon.

A separate study, by CoStar Group, helps strengthen the business case for green buildings as financially sound investments. According to the findings, LEED buildings command rent premiums of $11.24 per square foot over non-LEED peers and have a 3.8% higher occupancy. Rental rates in ENERGY STAR buildings represent a $2.38 per square foot premium over comparable non-ENERGY STAR buildings and have a 3.6% higher occupancy.

Additionally, in a trend that could signal greater attention from institutional investors, LEED buildings are selling for an average of $171 more per square foot than their peers. ENERGY STAR buildings command $61 more per square foot.