Benefits of energy efficient buildings outlined in several studies

October 18, 2011

Several studies have outlined the potential benefits of constructing and retrofitting buildings to adhere to green and sustainable standards. Lowered energy costs, increased property value and improved health of employees were all shown to occur in efficient structures.

A report from the CBRE Group showed that energy efficient and sustainable buildings generate stronger investment returns than traditional properties, according to the Responsible Developer.

CBRE reported that there is a higher value and an increased demand for green, specifically Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, buildings. The study outlined how companies would save an average of 21 percent on energy costs and a 3.1 percent improvement in both the rental rates and building occupancy in comparison to the rest of the commercial market.

The move to energy efficient buildings has been promoted by the Department of Energy (DOE) out of an attempt to remove the 40 percent of total energy consumption in the U.S. that these structures account for.

A living laboratory for the development and design of energy efficient buildings and technology was set up by the DOE at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Dubbed the Greater Philadelphia Innovation Cluster for Energy-Efficient Buildings project (GPIC), the site is partially operating on funding from the government organization.

Technology that is designed here helps companies retrofit and construct buildings that lower energy costs and reduce their carbon footprint.

According to the CBRE report, along with the increased property value of these efficient structures, green features helped improve the morale around the office. The findings from the study show that 19 percent of tenants reported increased productivity and 94 percent of managers registered higher satisfaction among workers.

Evidence was also presented by a 2010 British study, as the research outlined the fact that "green buildings" can improve the air quality, lighting, thermal comfort and access to views and acousitics, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

Joel Quintal, director of sustainability for Jones Lang LaSalle, noted that studies led many in the industry to believe that energy efficient buildings were becoming a target for companies that are trying to improve their bottom line.

''The office workplace is becoming a strategic tool that needs to be linked not only to the operational bottom line, but also to every company's human resource strategy," Quintal told the Herald.

He also noted that previous research found an increase in value of these properties by $37 to $55 per square foot.