CBRE study: San Francisco has most green building certifications

by Brianna Crandall — November 25, 2016 — Institutional owners of office buildings continued to pursue green building certifications in the 30 largest U.S. markets during 2015, according to the third annual Green Building Adoption Index study by global real estate advisor CBRE Group and Maastricht University.

Continuing an upward trend over the past decade, green certifications are now held by 11.8% of all surveyed buildings, representing 40.2% of all office space. Both figures are slightly above last year’s results. “Green” office buildings in the United States are defined as those that hold either an EPA ENERGY STAR label, USGBC LEED certification or both.

After placing second on the Green Building Adoption Index the two prior years, the San Francisco market claimed the top spot, with 73.7% of its space qualified as green certified. Chicago claimed the second spot, narrowly trailing the leader at 72.3%, and Minneapolis fell from the top into third spot at 60.6%. Houston, Atlanta and Los Angeles all also achieved more than 50% green certification in their office markets.

David Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility, said:

While the rate of growth in “green” buildings has slowed modestly, our latest study underscores that in most major markets, sustainable office space has become the “new normal.”

The overall results of the study do show that the while the uptake of green building practices in the 30 largest U.S. cities continues to be significant, the rate of adoption is slowing. In 2014 the total square feet of green office space in the top 30 markets was 39.3%, compared to the latest rate of 40.2%.

Dr. Nils Kok, associate professor in Finance and Real Estate, Maastricht University (NL), said:

This likely reflects the fact that only a certain fraction of the building stock can obtain a green or energy-efficiency certification. Additionally, we believe that some buildings that were previously certified did not renew their certification in 2015. This does not necessarily mean that the energy use of these buildings has changed, but that some owners and managers may choose not to spend the time or expense to reapply for certification every year.

A new feature of the 2015 study is a geographic mapping platform that highlights the name, location and details of the specific green certification for each building in all 30 markets.

Executed in close collaboration with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and CBRE Research, this is the third release of the annual Green Building Adoption Index. Said to be based on a rigorous methodology, the Index shows the growth of ENERGY STAR- and LEED-certified space for the 30 largest U.S. office markets, both in aggregate and in individual markets, over the previous 10 years.

A link to the study’s findings is available at the bottom of the CBRE announcement.