USGBC: Savings in LEED and Energy Star Buildings

Words: Bronzella Cleveland

MarchApril 2008
Industry News

USGBC: Studies Prove Significant Energy Savings in LEED and Energy Star Buildings

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) recently publicized the results of two studies that confirm that certified LEED and Energy Star buildings outperform other buildings in energy efficiency, and in sale, rental and occupancy rates.

The two studies – one from the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and the other from the CoStar Group – conclude that energy savings as high as 50 percent can be achieved in new buildings that follow energy savings guidelines. The NBI study, which was partially funded by the USGBC, indicates that new buildings certified under the USGBC’s LEED system perform 25 to 30 percent better, on average, than non-LEED certified buildings. Further, the NBI study finds a correlation between increasing levels of LEED certification and increased energy savings. Gold and Platinum LEED buildings, the study concludes, have average energy savings approaching 50 percent.

“The report also underscores that monitoring a building’s ongoing operations and maintenance, as required in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance and Energy Star, is equally important,” said Brendan Owens, vice president, LEED Technical Development, for USGBC. “Buildings are complicated systems and achieving and maintaining high performance is a process that requires the ongoing discipline and commitment to green practices. LEED and Energy Star provide building owners and operators with valuable structure to maintain high performance and deliver savings over time.”

The CoStar Group reports that the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program can provide equally impressive energy savings – an average of almost 40 percent less energy use, as well as 35 percent less carbon emissions. Thus, the USGBC finds that both studies strengthen the business case for green buildings as financially sound investments: buildings constructed and operated under both systems command rent premiums, show higher occupancy rates and command significantly more money in sale prices.

LEED buildings under the NBI study rented for $11.24 more per square foot, on average, compared with non-LEED peers; they have a 3.8 percent higher occupancy; and they sell for an average of $171 more per square foot. Energy Star buildings in the CoStar study represent a $2.38 per square foot premium; have a 3.6 percent higher occupancy; and sell for an average of $61 per square foot more than non-Energy Star buildings.

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