It is a milestone for the U.S. Green Building Council and for the global environment. The Washington, D.C.-based organization just announced that the square footage of commercial projects certified under its LEED Green Building Rating System has exceeded 1 billion square feet around the world. The multifamily sector has done its part with over 111 projects.
It was not so long ago that a great percentage of property owners across the commercial real estate spectrum were reluctant to go the extra mile to incorporate features that meet qualifications for LEED certification, be it the gold, silver, platinum or the LEED-Neighborhood Development designation. Dollar signs were the issue. Many developers could not look beyond the initial monetary investment to see the savings that would be achieved in the long run. However, the steady increase in LEED-certified properties indicates that the industry has clearly seen the light. Making the investment, which does not have to be as expensive as most had previously imagined, is ultimately a cost-effective move.
For apartment and condominium community owners, the benefits of building green extend well beyond the average 8 to 9 percent decrease in operating costs that LEED-certified properties yield through energy and water savings. These high-performance multifamily developments, according to a Green Building SmartMarket Report by McGraw Hill Construction, produce occupancy ratio increases of 3.5 percent and rent ratio increases of 3 percent. In addition to steady income flow or high unit sales, property owners covet increased property value, and for LEED-certified multifamily properties, the jump in value is an average 7.5 percent.
Numerous factors are spurring the consistent rise in the number of multifamily assets that qualify for LEED certification. “Unprecedented level of government initiatives, heightened residential demand for green construction and improvements in sustainable materials are expediting the growth of green building,” Erin Emery, marketing and communications account manager with USGBC, tells MHN.
Currently, 6 billion square feet of commercial projects are registered and working toward achieving LEED certification across the globe. The multifamily sector continues to be very much on the bandwagon. Among the bevy of projects across the country currently registered to receive certification are Mercy Housing’s 60-unit Countryside Seniors Apartments, which opened its doors in October in Countryside, Ill.; and San Francisco’s 29th Avenue Apartments, a Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center project featuring 20 residences for developmentally disabled adults. Also, in Stamford, Conn. is the Metro Green Residences, a 50-unit mixed-income development on which Jonathan Rose Cos. and Malkin Properties broke ground last month.