Chicago Now the Top US Market for Energy-Efficient Office Buildings

Credit: Aaron Bean

Chicago now has the most building spaces with LEED and Energy Star certification in the United States, according to a new study from the commercial real estate services firm CBRE and Maastricht University. The 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index ranked the Windy City top among the nation’s 30 largest real estate markets.

The city’s amount of certified building space rose 6.5% to reach 66% this year, which was enough to take the top spot away from San Francisco, Bloomberg Markets reported. For the second year in a row, Chicago also had the highest percentage of buildings with LEED certification. The other cities in the top 5 for LEED and Energy Star certifications were San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

For building owners, obtaining environmental certifications such as LEED and Energy Star is no longer unusual — it’s increasingly the norm. In 2005, less than 5% of commercial office space in the US had a “green” or “efficient” certification, the study said. In 2017, the total for 30 major real estate markets is 38%.

The study suggests that the adoption of energy benchmarking and transparency laws contributed to a rise in environmental building certifications. Nine of the 10 markets ranked in the index have benchmarking ordinances in place. Chicago’s own energy benchmarking project reported in January that approximately 1,200 buildings in the program saved about $17.8 million on energy costs since tracking began three years ago.

Apartments designed for efficiency and sustainability have been shown to increase property values. “The private sector has firmly embraced energy efficiency as a tool for cost reduction, and sustainability as an opportunity to increase the performance of real assets,” the study says.

“Green buildings are getting the bigger tenants, higher dollars, and more investor capital,” David Pogue, global director of corporate responsibility for CBRE told Bloomberg Markets. “Big companies need these spaces because they want to communicate to their employees that they embrace this.”

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