Since its debut by the U.S. Green Building Council in 2000, LEED has rapidly become the rating standard by which green-building advocates measure commitment to the cause. As “going green” has evolved from a fringe lifestyle choice to a widespread initiative, even at work, the pressure has grown for building owners to at least consider LEED certification.
So landlords crunch numbers and evaluate operations to assess whether a LEED rating – from simple certification to silver, gold or platinum, the highest level – is worth the cost and effort.
For cash-squeezed commercial-property owners, never have those calculations been so important. With the recession, landlords are struggling to retain tenants and make mortgage payments as demand for office space – and, consequently, rental income – has dropped.
Then again, green-building advocates contend the time is fast approaching when not having a LEED-certified building could hamper a landlord’s efforts to attract tenants.
In the last few years, employers have reported a growing number of job applicants asking about workplace-sustainability efforts.
“There’s a PR side to this,” said Missy Quinn, director of client solutions for Cushman & Wakefield of Pennsylvania Inc., a real estate services company.
As of last week, Pennsylvania had 216 LEED-certified buildings; New Jersey, 83. Nationwide, talk still far outpaces actual action where LEED is concerned.
“We’re at a fraction of a percent of the built environment,” said Scot Horst, the Green Building Council’s senior vice president, LEED.
The total U.S. LEED building inventory is 4,825, with the Merchandise Mart in Chicago and the Getty Center in Los Angeles among the higher-profile examples. In New York, the Empire State Building boasts one LEED-certified floor (based on its commercial interiors) and is now pursuing structure-wide LEED status.