Consumers fork out for energy efficient buildings

Buildings with certified energy ratings are not just more energy efficient than their counterparts, but are also earning more on rental and retail markets.

Those are the findings of two US studies which looked at new buildings certified under the US Green Building Council's (USGBC) LEED scheme and the Environment Protection Agency's ENERGY STAR programme.

Researchers found that LEED buildings had average energy savings of up to almost 50%, and ENERGY STAR of almost 40%.

But this also made the buildings more attractive to buyers and renters.

A study by property information firm CoStar Group found that LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) buildings earn an extra $11.24 per square foot in rents and have 3.8% higher occupancy than their non-LEED peers.

ENERGY STAR buildings earn an extra $2.38 per square foot and have 3.6% higher occupancy.

LEED buildings are also selling for an average of $171 per square foot more than their counterparts, while ENERGY STAR sell for an average $61 per square foot more.

Andrew Florance, president and CEO of CoStar, said: "The information we've discovered is very compelling. Like all good science, we discovered it by accident.

"Green buildings are clearly achieving higher rents and higher occupancy, they have lower operating costs, and they're achieving higher sale prices."

A separate study by the New Buildings Institute, commissioned by the USGBC and EPA, found that certified buildings are dramatically outperforming their counterparts on energy efficiency.

LEED buildings were, on average, 25-30% better, while Gold and Platinum LEED buildings had average energy savings approaching 50%.

ENERGY STAR buildings use an average of almost 40% less energy and emit 35% less carbon.

"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, vice president of LEED technical development at the USGBC.

"The report also underscores that monitoring a building's ongoing operations and maintenance, as required in LEED and ENERGY STAR, is equally important."

Kate Martin



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