This Year’s Top Markets for Energy Efficient Buildings

by | Aug 24, 2017

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CBRE has released its 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index (GBAI), which shows Chicago and San Francisco at the forefront for constructing energy efficient commercial buildings.

The fourth annual report measures the growth in smart energy building practices in US office markets via the share of ENERGY STAR and/or LEED-certified square footage in buildings over the past decade, both in aggregate and each individual market.

The top 10 cities for adopting energy efficient measures in commercial buildings are:

  1. Chicago
  2. San Francisco
  3. Atlanta
  4. Houston
  5. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Denver
  8. Washington D.C.
  9. Seattle
  10. Manhattan

According to the report, out of the top 25 Chicago metro 2016 transactions, 12 leases totaling over 3 million sq. ft. were in LEED Certified buildings, with the top 3 leases accounting for more than half of the square footage. This city also recently announced that more energy efficient buildings played a role in reducing community-wide GHG emissions by 7% within a 5-year span.

Another US metropolis, New York City, made remarkable gains in the area of energy efficient commercial construction. As the GBAI report writes:

Manhattan continues to move up the charts, this year claiming a top 10 spot for the first time, coming in at number 10 with 39.4% of the market certified. Most impressively, Manhattan now boasts the highest percentage of Energy Star labeled buildings, at 24.6% and the highest percentage of LEED certified buildings at 11.3%. Not surprising, taken together these numbers also give Manhattan the overall lead in percentage of green buildings, at 28.6%. These are the highest scores we have ever recorded during our four-year study for each of these categories. By most measures NYC could claim the title as the greenest real estate market. However, similar to Washington, D.C., the methodology of this survey, which uses percentage of green certified square footage, places markets with a large number of similar sized buildings at a disadvantage to markets with a broader mix of building sizes.

It was recently reported that in New York City, 3,000 large buildings that were benchmarked consistently from 2010 to 2013 used 6% less energy, reducing GHG emissions by 8% fewer.

Other highlights from the 2017 GBAI report include:

  • Measured by square footage, the amount of certified commercial space slightly increased from 37% in 2015 to 38% at the end of 2016;
  • The ENERGY STAR program expanded slightly in 2016, with 10.3% of all commercial office buildings in the largest markets now certified, up from 9.9%. This represents 31.7% of total commercial office space, up from 29.9%;
  • At the end of 2016, LEED certifications represented 4.7% of the total number of commercial office buildings across the 30 largest U.S. office markets, up from 4.6% the year before;
  • Large geographic variation in the adoption of LEED and ENERGY STAR certification remains.

The ENERGY STAR program could be in jeopardy under the Trump administration, however. The 25-year-old federal initiative that has promoted energy efficiency nationwide is targeted for elimination under the preliminary “America First” budget plan delivered to Congress by President Donald Trump in March.

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