Chicago Third in Nation for Green Building Adoption

CBREChicago has retained its ranking among the nation’s largest metropolises on a recent survey of sustainable office space. With 63.4% of its office space certified green, Chicago came in third, behind Minneapolis and San Francisco. As Chicago is significantly larger than these two other cities combined, this market has clearly embraced green real estate practices like no other.

The 2015 Green Building Adoption Index, a joint project of CBRE Group, Inc. and Maastricht University, gauged a variety of metrics to determine the growth of ENERGY STAR- and LEED-certified space in the largest U.S. office markets over the previous 10 years. Across the country, certification was slightly down; while 13.1% of the commercial building stock was certified at the end of 2014, that’s a slight decrease from 13.8% in 2013.

A similar downward trend is initially evident here in Chicago. Although the total number of certified buildings reduced from 294 to 287 over the previous year, the percentage of all square footage in those buildings increased to 63.4%, good for third among the nation’s 30 largest markets. The index highlighted the West Loop as a burgeoning area for green certification of office space in Chicago. In total, 64.0% of West Loop buildings hold an ENERGY STAR or LEED certification.

CBRE_graphAnother trend that emerged from the Green Building Adoption Index was the difference between buildings of different sizes. “Our 2015 study confirmed that green building adoption has been primarily a big building, first-tier city phenomenon,” said David Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility.

Of office buildings in the U.S. greater than 500,000 square feet, 62.1% are considered green, compared to merely 4.5% of office buildings smaller than 100,000 square feet. But within that gulf is a chance for owners of smaller buildings to differentiate themselves. “It would appear that many smaller buildings in the majority of large markets still have an opportunity to be ‘best in class’ among their peer set by achieving these certifications,” Pogue said.

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