Energy efficient buildings: Commercial structures and LEED certification

July 30, 2012

The commercial real estate market has withstood the worst part of the 2008 recession and has emerged from the economic catastrophe almost unscathed, faring much better than the residential sector. Businesses are now looking to upgrade their properties, since the crisis seems to be over, and this could include energy efficient upgrades.

Retrofitting and renovating commercial properties could add significant value to these assets, especially given the financial benefits of achieving Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Companies and property owners are looking to get their buildings certified, as this not only indicates lower operating costs, but it ups the value of the given structure.

According to Triple Pundit, structures that have been given the LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council can also qualify for financial benefits through tax rebates and incentives.

Tenants are provided with an atmosphere that is much healthier, and workers in these offices will benefit. The companies that have invested in these properties will also see lower operating costs, helping to improve the satisfaction that they have with the building owners.

Commercial structures are evaluated for potential LEED certification based on five primary areas. Energy use levels are examined, including the use of energy efficient lighting and modern HVAC systems.

Triple Pundit reported that the location of the building and sustainability of the immediate environment are also taken into account by the USGBC when they look at buildings.

The quality of air in the indoor environment is also important, and the use of daylight to reduce lighting costs are also components that are graded.

Water conservation is also measured by the USGBC, as the presence and number of reduced-use mechanisms installed into a building can help an owner secure a high level of certification.

Lastly, the use of sustainable materials during construction is also taken into consideration.

The USGBC is not the only organization working to cut energy consumption levels of commercial buildings in the U.S., as the Department of Energy has designated an innovation Hub to promote progress in the real estate market.

The Energy Efficient Buildings Hub (EEB Hub) is headquartered in Philadelphia, and the initiative works with local organizations to promote change in the region.

According to the HUBlog, the organization is helping with the Greenfest Philly's Green Innovators Program, promoting scientific thought in the city and helping to provide examples of sustainability.