Volume 50, Issue 11 - November 2015


Green Means “Big” Business for Office Building Sector

When it comes to green building for commercial spaces, large is in charge.

Real estate services company CBRE Group recently collaborated with Maastricht University to create the 2015 Green Building Adoption Index, an annual measurement of commercial green building adoption based on U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) LEED and EPA Energy Star certification. The index is compiled from information about office buildings in the largest 30 U.S. cities as of the fourth quarter of 2014.

The results of the study show an interesting and definite trend in office construction. The study found that 62.1 percent of office buildings in the U.S. larger than 500,000 square feet were considered “green,” holding either an Energy Star label, full-building LEED certification or both. Meanwhile, only 4.5 percent of office buildings less than 100,000 square feet qualified as green.

The wide discrepancy between the “greenness” of large commercial buildings compared to small isn’t necessarily surprising, but it is telling.

David Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility, says the study confirms green building “has been primarily a big-building, first-tier-city phenomenon” and that smaller buildings in these markets have an opportunity to set themselves apart by seeking certification.

The progression is evident in mid-sized buildings, as well.

According to the study, 25.5 percent of buildings 100,000-250,000 square feet are certified, and 54.6 percent of buildings that span more than 250,000 square feet meet the standard.

“It is clear that most big buildings are pursuing and achieving certification,” the report reads, “and that, in many markets, failure to do so may place a building at a competitive disadvantage.”

Overall results of the study show a continued uptick of green building practices in the 30 largest U.S. cities. By square footage, total floor space certified with Energy Star was 27.8 percent, while 5.3 percent of all commercial office buildings in the largest markets were LEED certified.

Minneapolis led the city ranking with 70.4 percent of all office space currently qualified as green, followed by San Francisco, which boasts a 70-percent green market. Chicago, at 63.4 percent, was third, and Atlanta (57.8 percent) and Houston (52.9 percent) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively.

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