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On Tuesday, Greenbiz.com released its “The State and Impacts of Green Buildings” report, with encouraging results for the green building industry.  Rob Watson, Senior Contributor for Greenbiz.com emphasizes that “green value is becoming statistically significant.  If you’re not making money with a green building, you need a new marketing department.  If your green building is not performing, you probably need a new design team.”

Although LEED certifications dropped off during the recession and it took 10 years for the first billion square feet of commercial space to become LEED certified, in just the last 2.5 years, LEED reached a milestone of adding another billion square feet of certified space!

But what’s the importance of achieving a 3rd-party certification like LEED versus building or operating facilities sustainably without a green label?  Diversey, a Wisconsin company, hired Harris to conduct a survey of 1,016 US adults to determine the public’s perceptions of green buildings.  “Is it the right thing to do or is it also right for business?” asked John Matthews, Senior Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer for Diversey.

What we found is that “It’s not only right for business but it’s an enormous opportunity to build brand value.”  64% of adults surveyed would prefer to patronize a business whose facility is certified by a 3rd party environmental organization, and nearly half believe that a company’s image improves if its facilities are certified.  Women and customers ages 18-54 are more likely to perceive companies that operate in a green facility in a positive light.

Some interesting facts about recent LEED projects:
1.    The most common level of LEED certification is Gold, with only 5-6% of projects achieving Platinum certification.
2.    While New Construction certifications still dominate, Existing Buildings and Commercial Interiors project registrations are up.  This is in part due to a quicker process for these rating systems.  Existing buildings typically take between 17-18 months from project registration to certification, while new construction hovers around 32 months.
3.    45% of 2011 LEED projects are in international locations.

The results are also in for the new version of LEED – LEED 2009.  LEED 2009 projects are seeing an average energy reduction of 32% vs. 27% for the previous version of LEED, v. 2.2.

LEED for Homes, a relatively new rating system, is also growing, with a 28% increase of certifications from 2010 to 2011.  Currently, 16,000 homes are certified with 50,000 in process.  Of these, approximately 56% are multi-family and 44% are single-family.

Based on various studies, LEED’s green label brings in the green at the end of the day.  Sales prices range from 8.5% to 26% higher than non-LEED buildings, vacancies range from 3-6% lower than average, and 5-7% rent premiums are typical.

“Obtaining 3rd party certification for your development is like graduating from Stanford,” explains Watson.  “If you are already investing the time and money in your development, it just doesn’t make sense to drop out right before graduation.”

At the Cornerstone Group, we have always known that building green makes sense for the environment, our residents, and the bottom line.  We are confident that as results from more green building studies are released, the benefits will continue to outweigh the costs. Read about TCG’s sustainability initiatives.