Businesses and Tenants Learning to Love Green Architecture

While LEED-certified buildings and sustainable architecture aren’t necessarily new ideas, they are seeing higher demand and interest among businesses across the country. While a lot of this is due to cost savings, it also has much to do with a new national mindset of belief in environmental sustainability. 

Tenant Demand Increasing for Green Buildings 

In April of this year, the U.S. Green Building Council released the findings of a new survey, LEED and the Corporate Built Environment, in which Fortune 200 companies were queried in regards to green buildings. Among the many takeaways from the survey are the following important revelations:

  • 82 percent of corporate respondents are likely to continue using LEED-certified buildings over the next three years (for retrofit or new construction projects). 
  • A healthy 60 percent of corporate respondents believe LEED positively impacts their overall ROI.

However, in addition to the financial returns, it’s important to note that the way in which green buildings are built has changed (specifically, their appearance). “Where once aesthetically pleasing green architecture was considered an oxymoron, today architects, engineers and constructors have embraced and become adept at green building,” writes Steve Schleider, president of Metropolitan Valuation Services.

Higher Demand in Certain Areas

A few cities and states in particular are leading the way when it comes to green commercial buildings and widespread adoption. 

According to a study by the CBRE Group and Maastrict University, Miami is considered one of the top locations for LEED-certified real estate. In fact, all businesses have to do is browse office space listings, and they’ll see some of the 79 LEED buildings and more than 21 million square feet of corporate space in the area. 

On a state level, Illinois is considered one of the top LEED building locations. In 2013 alone, they certified 171 projects. That equated to 2.29 square feet of LEED space per Illinois resident. Other hot spots include Oregon, Washington D.C., Maryland, and Virginia.

Benefits of Green Buildings for Businesses

This increased demand for green buildings – from a business point of view – is correlated to three major benefits: 

  • Lower costs. The first thing corporations think about, naturally, is cost savings. Owners of green buildings report a 19.2 percent improvement in ROI when comparing green building projects to regular building projects.
  • Better PR. In a society where eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability are important to the average person, a business’ commitment to green architecture can significantly impact the way a corporation appears in the public eye. 
  • Ability to attract and retain. Finally, research has concluded that there is a direct correlation between LEED-certified buildings and increased retention rates and productivity – meaning employees are satisfied with green workspaces.

The Future of Green Architecture 

From an architectural point of view, the fact that demand for sustainable architecture has increased is fantastic news. Perhaps it signals the approach of a fundamental shift in how corporate America views long-term sustainability and environmental issues. However, the next few years will be important, as it’s up to policy makers, architects, businesses, and various eco-friendly groups to band together and continue the push for minimally invasive building projects.

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Drew Hendricks is a tech, social media and environmental addict. He's written for many major publishers such as National Geographic and Technorati.

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