Sustainable, Efficient Buildings Have Higher Rents, Happier Tenants

The more sustainable, efficient, and environmentally responsible buildings are, the higher their rents and occupancy rates and the more satisfied their tenants.

Citing a study undertaken by the University of Guelph, Sustainability Dashboard Tools LLC reports the more sustainable, efficient in their use of natural resources, and environmentally responsible buildings are, the higher their rents and occupancy rates and the more satisfied their tenants.

The study was based on data collected from 2004 to 2013, which included a boom, a bust, and a recovery in the commercial real-estate industry, and involved 148 office buildings in Canada and 143 office buildings in the United States totaling more than 58 million sq ft.

What the researchers were looking for, according to Stephen Ashkin, chief executive officer of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, were buildings that met energy and sustainability standards based on three certification programs: LEED, BOMA, and Energy Star.

"This is probably the most comprehensive study ever taken to see if there is a tangible correlation between greener, more sustainable buildings and one that produces economic benefits for building owners and managers," Ashkin said. "Previous studies have only suggested there is a correlation. ... This one shows there is."

Among the highlights of the study are:

  • Compared with traditional buildings, green and more sustainable buildings have 3.7-percent-higher rents.
  • Occupancy rates were 18.7-percent higher in Canada and 9.5-percent higher in the United States.
  • Tenant-renewal rates were 5.6-percent higher in both countries.
  • In Canada, tenant satisfaction was 7-percent higher.
  • In the United States, energy consumption per square foot was 14-percent lower.

"We need more studies like this," Ashkin said. "Studies like this make the business case for sustainability, and that is something many building owners and developers are still looking for."

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