Whether it’s new energy benchmarking standards or a push for green rooftops, there’s a new sustainability-focused headline in Denver every week. In reality, the trend toward improving building operating performance and enhancing building quality is alive and well on a national scale.
Earlier this summer, our research team released its annual Green Building Adoption Index, a study conducted in partnership with Maastricht University. For the fourth year in a row, Denver ranked among the top 10 U.S. cities for the percent of its office space qualified as green. In the study, green office buildings are defined as those that hold either an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star label, U.S. Green Building Council LEED certification or both.
Ranking No. 7 nationally, Denver’s green building figures were up slightly year over year. According to the 2017 report, 13.3 percent of Denver office buildings are certified green, compared to 11.8 percent last year. While that seems a little low to rank among the top 10, Denver’s green buildings have large footprints. In terms of square footage, 41.9 percent of Denver’s office square footage is certified green.
So, who is leading the pack? Chicago claimed the top spot on CBRE’s National Green Building Adoption Index this year, with 18.1 percent of its office buildings (and 66 percent of its total office footprint) certified green. San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis rounded out the top five.
At a national level, the study found that institutional owners of office buildings continued to pursue green building certifications in the 30 largest U.S. metro areas. Overall 10.3 percent of all buildings surveyed were found to be Energy Star labeled, while 4.7 percent were LEED certified. From a square footage standpoint, 38 percent of commercial office space in the U.S. is green certified. These are both slightly ahead of last year’s totals.
The research also identified an interesting trend in terms of the impact of municipal energy-disclosure regulations on green building adoption.
As most people working in commercial real estate are aware, in late 2016 Denver passed an energy benchmarking ordinance that applies to multifamily and commercial buildings 25,000 sf or greater. The ordinance requires commercial building owners to find out the Energy Star score of their properties and provide that information to the city. The ordinance is being rolled out in stages. In 2017, only buildings 50,000 sf or larger must participate. Beginning next year, buildings 25,000 sf and larger also are included. When fully rolled out, the policy is expected to cover around 360 million sf of space annually.