Robert J. Kobet, LEED Faculty
I have been with the USGBC from its beginning, and take great satisfaction in being one of the first twelve LEED Faculty members selected in 2000. Since then I have seen the emergence of a number of green building rating systems that are doing their part to support the international green building movement; Green Globes, the Living Building Challenge, the WELL Building Standard and others.
The USGBC contends a LEED plaque on a building is a mark of quality and achievement in green building. While critics of the USGBC continue to challenge the “cost versus value” assertion, LEED has proven that it is worth the investment. Leaders across the globe have made LEED the most widely used green building rating system in the world, with 1.85 million square feet of construction space certifying every day. In a recent information release the USGBC states the following:
- LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings. LEED is the triple bottom line in action, benefitting people, planet and profit.
- LEED Certification means healthier, more productive places, reduced stress on the environment by encouraging energy and resource-efficient buildings, and savings from increased building value, higher lease rates and decreased utility costs. 88 of the Fortune 100 companies are using LEED.
- LEED projects are responsible for diverting over 80 million tons of waste from landfills. Compared to the average commercial building, LEED Gold buildings in the General Services Administration’s portfolio consume a quarter less energy and generate 34% lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Byron G. Rogers Courthouse, Denver CO The Lewis Center, Oberlin College, Oberlin OH
In addition, the USGBC believes LEED Buildings:
- Provide a competitive differentiator – 61% of corporate leaders believe that sustainability leads to market differentiation and improved financial performance.
- Make for happier employees and occupants – certified buildings are demonstrating increased recruitment and retention rates and increased productivity benefits for employers. 5 million employees are currently experiencing better indoor environmental quality in LEED buildings.
- Attract tenants – Today’s tenants understand and are looking for the benefits that LEED certified spaces have to offer. The new Class A office space is green; lease-up rates for green buildings typically range from average to 20% above average.
- Save energy and resources and lower operating costs – Between 2008 and 2012, there was dramatic growth in the percentage of firms that built green to achieve lower operating costs (increased to 30% from 17%) and to gain a branding / public relations advantage (increased to 30% from 22%).
- Are cost effective – A study of 562 PNC bank branches showed that compared to non-LEED-certified facilities, LEED-certified facilities annually opened up 458 more consumer deposit accounts and had $3,032,000 more in consumer deposit balance per facility per year and increased revenue.
- Provide public relations and community benefits – Adobe Systems, Inc., announced in 2006 that it had received three LEED Platinum awards for its headquarters towers; not only did it reap great publicity, but the firm showed that it had garnered a net present value return of almost 20 to one on its initial investment.
- Increase rental rates – A recent study of the San Diego market showed that the overall vacancy rate for green buildings was 4% lower than for non-green properties – 11.7%, compared to 15.7% – and that LEED-certified buildings continued to command the highest rents.
- Optimize health – By bringing the good in – like clean air and access to daylight – and keeping the bad out – including harmful chemicals found in paints, finishings and more – LEED creates healthy spaces. Buildings that optimize well-being are more important than ever.
- Are global – More than 72,000 projects are participating in LEED across 150+ countries and territories, comprising over 13.8 billion square feet. USGBC estimates nearly 5 million people experience a LEED building every day. Many of the world’s most well-known buildings are LEED certified.