If your company is looking to relocate to an office space that is green, you need to look no further than the Twin Cities area of Minneapolis and St. Paul, or the tech-centric enclave of San Francisco, according to a new report that looked at Energy Star- and LEED-certified
buildings across the US. The report, produced by Los Angeles-based real estate conglomerate CBRE
with researchers from Maastrict University
in the Netherlands, is called the Real Green Research Challenge
. It looks at 30 different US cities and ranks those with the greatest amount of green space.
In addition, the CBRE report looked at the overall growth of green space in the US and found that those buildings with either the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star rating or the United States Green Building Council’s LEED certification are on the rise.
What's San Francisco got on us?
Specifically, in 2005, only 1.5% of commercial buildings had one or both of these designations. However, by the end of 2013, that jumped to more than 13% of all buildings in these 30 markets. For those advocating for more sustainable buildings and better working conditions for office workers, this represents a positive step forward.
The CBRE report adds:
Currently 8,405 office buildings, representing more than 1.9 billion square feet of office space, have been awarded an Energy Star label, denoting the top energy performers among their peer set. Additionally, a total of 5,470 office buildings, representing almost 900 million square feet of office space, have received some type of full-building LEED certification.
There are several different reasons why companies and their employees are seeking out sustainable office space, and why real estate developers are looking to create more green space. One of these has to do with the bottom line: Many businesses are looking to trim costs, and having floor space that cuts down on heating, cooling, and other energy expenditures serves to reduce overall operating expenses.
Still, the report notes, many companies are looking to become better environmental stewards. That process starts with sustainable building plans. In addition, many of the Fortune 500 -- the companies that real estate developers want to attract to their commercial projects -- are demanding Energy Star or LEED certifications.
On the two different certifications, the LEED designation is having the more significant growth. In 2005, less than one tenth of commercial buildings had the certification. By the end of 2013, that number increased to 5.1% of the total market. During the same eight-year span, Energy Star certifications grew from 1.3% of all office buildings to just over 10%.
The rankings are based on EPA and USGCB data, along with information that CBRE provided to the researchers in the Netherlands. From there, the university ranked the cities in the top 30 markets.
If your company has offices in the Twin Cities area, you’re in luck. The study finds that 135 buildings in Minneapolis and St. Paul carry one or both of the two certifications -- that equals about 152 million square feet. Nearly 30% of the office buildings in the area are considered green, which is better than Atlanta (26.6%) or Manhattan (24%). Finally, over three quarters of the commercial office space is green, which is much higher than the national average -- 77% versus 39%.
There are two big reasons for the Twin Cities’ dominance. The first is attributed to several laws on the books that require and encourage green design. The second is a long history of leadership in this field and a demand by businesses for these types of buildings.
Not surprisingly, San Francisco, which is home to, or in close proximity to, many tech companies that emphasize green or are seeking to develop environmental products, is second. In the city, 244 building carry one or both of the certifications, which equals about 77.5 million square feet. Just over 67% of the office space in the city is considered green, which just trails the Twin Cities.
As for the rest of the Top 5:
- Chicago ranks third
- Houston is fourth
- Atlanta rounds out the list in fifth place
The full rankings can be found on the report. How does your city measure up? Is your company looking to relocate to a greener building? Tell us where your city ranks, and share your thoughts about sustainable buildings and office space in the comments section.
— Scott Ferguson