Do Sustainable Building Design Certifications Provide ROI?

June 5, 2015 By Karen Henry

building design Energy ManageSustainable building design certifications have not delivered much in terms of protecting and enhancing building values over the long term, according to a study conducted by Underwriters Laboratories. UL asked constituents in the built environment value-chain where the sources of economic value and ROI were being found in the overall sustainable buildings movement.

In many cases, the study found that building owners and investors have approached building certification programs as checklists to tick through in order to get a plaque on the wall for marketing purposes. In some cases, a certification helped building owners meet corporate social responsibility goals or it resonated favorably with tenants and customers.

Most building owners would be better served if they focused on the values at the facility and operational levels building certifications were meant to help them achieve. For example, building owners will derive the biggest bang for their buck by focusing on maintaining and enhancing the building’s energy, plumbing and HVAC systems.

While building automation systems are also high on the economic value chain, the majority of building operations and maintenance staff are from the Baby Boomer generation and are hesitant to adopt building automation technologies for fear of losing their jobs or changing the way things have been managed for decades. Once smart home technologies start to really penetrate the market within the next five years, however, commercial and industrial buildings will face increased pressure to make similar advancements. As Millennials come into decision-making positions, they will expect building automation systems to already be in place.

If building investors and owners want to ensure tenants will be attracted to properties in the future and if corporate owners and tenants wish to attract and retain the best talent to work in their facilities, ensuring buildings reflect innovative design and effectively perform in terms of technology capability, resource management and promotion of healthy and productive environments will increasingly be regarded as the basic cost of doing business.

Image via Shutterstock.

2 comments on “Do Sustainable Building Design Certifications Provide ROI?

  1. Just because a sustainable building design certification doesn’t make that property more valuable doesn’t mean that the practices that went into getting this certification don’t have value. Saving energy and water saves money, even if it costs a little more up front to install these types of saving devices/systems.

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