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  • Hetal Parekh

Beyond ROI: Exploring The Hidden Benefits Of Green Building Certification For Commercial Properties


Benefits Of Green Building Certification For Commercial Properties
Benefits Of Green Building Certification For Commercial Properties

The construction industry is experiencing a profound shift towards sustainability, driven by legislative push to combat climate change and foster healthier environments. One of the notable strategies outlined in many climate action plans is following green standards in construction for commercial buildings. These standards not only align with the energy goals set by cities and states across the nation but also play a pivotal role in advancing them. By advocating for energy efficiency, integrating renewable energy sources, and promoting sustainable design practices, certified buildings actively contribute to reducing carbon emissions and mitigating the impacts of climate change.


To further encourage the adoption of green building practices, cities, states, and federal agencies in the United States are stepping up to provide support. Through various financial incentives, grants, tax incentives, and perks like expedited permitting and regulatory and certification assistance programs, these entities aim to facilitate sustainable construction projects. These incentives serve to alleviate the upfront costs associated with green building certification, thus making it more financially viable for developers and property owners to embrace environmentally friendly building practices.


Many commercial building owners in the US hesitate to adopt green certifications due to concerns about high upfront costs, limited awareness of benefits, perceived risks, uncertainty about tenant preferences, regulatory challenges, and a short-term focus on financial returns. These owners perceive them as expensive investments, and lack of understanding of long-term advantages of pursuing sustainable building practices. In this blog we will explore if these standards truly deliver on their promises by examining four key certifications: LEED - emphasizing energy efficiency and resource conservation, WELL Building - prioritizing occupant health and productivity, Zero Energy - aimed at eliminating operational energy costs, and Living Building - striving for net-zero or net-positive energy and water consumption.


Green buildings certified under these standards offer a host of benefits, including reduced operating costs, improved occupant health and productivity, increased property value and tenant marketing opportunities. Lets delve deeper into each of these benefits:


1. Cost savings


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):

LEED-certified buildings typically achieve energy savings ranging from 25% to 30% compared to conventional buildings. The operational cost savings primarily stem from reduced energy and water consumption due to energy-efficient features such as HVAC systems, lighting, insulation and water-saving fixtures and systems. Additionally, LEED-certified buildings may experience decreased maintenance and operational costs associated with improved indoor environmental quality and durability of materials.


WELL Building Standard:

While WELL certification focuses primarily on occupant health and well-being, it indirectly contributes to operational cost savings by enhancing productivity and reducing absenteeism.

Improved indoor air quality, lighting, thermal comfort, and acoustics can lead to increased employee satisfaction and performance, resulting in higher productivity, lower turnover rates and reduced healthcare costs.


Net-Zero Energy:

Net Zero Energy buildings aim to produce as much energy as they consume over the course of a year, resulting in minimal operational energy costs. Energy-efficient design features and building systems help minimize energy demand, further reducing operational expenses associated with heating, cooling, and lighting. By integrating renewable energy sources such as solar panels, wind turbines, or geothermal systems, Net Zero Energy buildings can achieve further operational cost savings by offsetting or eliminating electricity bills.


Living Building Challenge:

Living Building Challenge certification goes beyond energy efficiency to prioritize regenerative design and construction practices. Living Buildings aim to operate entirely off-grid, producing all the energy they need from renewable sources and harvesting and treating their water on-site. While upfront costs for Living Building certification may be higher, the operational cost savings potential is significant, as these buildings achieve net-zero or net-positive energy and water consumption, resulting in minimal ongoing utility expenses.


2. Potential for improved occupant health and productivity


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):

LEED-certified buildings promote occupant health and productivity through adoption of various design features and strategies aimed at enhancing indoor environmental quality. This is achieved through effective ventilation systems and use of low-emission materials and facade design to incorporate daylighting strategies, such as maximizing access to natural light and reducing glare.


WELL Building Standard:

WELL-certified buildings report higher levels of employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention, as well as reduced absenteeism and improved overall well-being among occupants compared to conventional buildings. WELL certification places a strong emphasis on occupant health and well-being, with specific requirements targeting air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind. This is achieved through features like advanced air filtration systems, access to clean and filtered water, healthy food options, ergonomic workstations, and biophilic design elements.


Net Zero Energy:

Net Zero Energy buildings indirectly support occupant health and productivity by providing a comfortable and healthy indoor environment while minimizing environmental impact. Energy-efficient design features, such as high-performance insulation and windows, contribute to consistent indoor temperatures and thermal comfort, reducing discomfort and distractions for occupants. Additionally, by integrating renewable energy sources and reducing energy consumption, Net Zero Energy buildings minimize pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, creating a healthier outdoor environment and improving overall air quality.


Living Building Challenge:

Living Building Challenge certification prioritizes occupant health and well-being as part of its holistic approach to sustainability though adoption of biophilic design principles, natural materials, and non-toxic finishes to create environments that promote physical, mental, and emotional wellness. Most LBC certified buildings have improved access to daylight, views of nature, healthy indoor air quality, and opportunities for physical activity contribute to a higher occupant health, productivity, and overall quality of life than conventional building.


3. Increase property value and tenant marketing potential


LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):

LEED certification acts as a valuable marketing tool for building owners and developers, offering certified buildings a competitive edge in the marketplace. Tenants prefer LEED-certified buildings over conventional for their lower operating costs, improved indoor environmental quality, and alignment with corporate sustainability goals, making them more attractive leasing options. LEED-certified buildings can also command a premium on its property value due to their reputation for sustainability and environmental responsibility, which attracts investors and tenants seeking high-performance, energy-efficient spaces.


WELL Building Standard:

WELL-certified buildings differentiate themselves in the market by offering amenities and features that support employee health, such as advanced air filtration systems, natural lighting, and healthy food options, which can command higher rental rates and attract quality tenants. Healthier and more productive indoor environments appeal to tenants seeking spaces that prioritize employee wellness, and as a result indirectly appreciates the property value.


Net Zero Energy:

Net Zero Energy buildings offer a unique value proposition by providing tenants with energy-efficient spaces that minimize utility costs and offer long-term savings opportunities. Reduced operating expenses, energy consumption and utility bills makes buildings more financially attractive to investors and tenants seeking cost-effective and sustainable leasing options, in turn enhancing the property value.


Living Building Challenge:

Living Building Challenge certification represents the pinnacle of sustainability and environmental stewardship, positioning buildings as leaders in regenerative design and construction. These buildings command premium rents and sales prices due to their exceptional performance, innovative design features, and commitment to net-zero or net-positive energy and water consumption. Tenants are often drawn to Living Buildings for their unique attributes, including healthy indoor environments, energy efficiency, and environmental responsibility, making them desirable leasing options for companies seeking to align their values with their workspace.


In conclusion, all the green building certifications offer multitude of benefits for commercial building owners and developers - cost savings, increased property value, improved occupant satisfaction, regulatory compliance, marketing opportunities, and resilience to climate risks. And while there are additional costs involved, by taking advantage of financial incentives, developers and property owners can make sustainable building practices more accessible and economically viable, ultimately contributing to the advancement of environmental stewardship and energy conservation efforts. To explore the best options for your project, consider reaching out to local 'Office of Sustainability', or consulting with energy efficiency experts like EnerYields.


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