Companies are looking to reduce their energy usage as a way to save money and help the environment, which is creating increased demand for sustainable commercial buildings.

A new report by the Urban Land Institute and Pricewaterhouse Coopers found that owners of green or sustainable buildings in Europe can collect more in rent. This has given rise to a renewed effort to refurbish older buildings to reduce energy consumption and qualify for sustainable certification, according to Building Design Online.

The trend is being mirrored in the U.S., as green buildings typically sell for a 9 percent premium. The U.S. Green Building Council certified 156 LEED projects in Illinois alone. With 140 million square feet of sustainable real estate, Illinois ranked fifth in the nation for LEED certified buildings.

“Since the day I took office I have been committed to making sure Illinois is the most environmentally-friendly state in the country,” Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement. “I’m proud to have the U.S. Green Building Council recognize the success of our efforts to make sure sustainable practices are implemented in homes, schools and businesses throughout Illinois.”

Landlords who are looking to attract hot new industries may consider launching sustainable initiatives. Fast Company noted that green office buildings are popular with tech companies in Silicon Valley, as they represent their commitment to the future and remaining on the cutting edge of technology. However, renovations can be expensive, so it is necessary for owners to consider their options carefully before they open their wallets.


New heating units or solar panels may help reduce overall energy costs and help attract tenants, but will the savings outweigh the initial upfront costs of the renovations? How much additional rent will the offices command after the upgrades? How long will the environmentally-friendly equipment last? Using tools to track expenses to determine lifetime value of equipment can help answer these challenging questions.

Owners may decide that pursuing LEED certification is the best course of action and need to carefully manage their renovations to ensure upgrades meet all specifications. Keeping the renovations on schedule will save the owner thousands in building and labor costs, helping to realize savings earlier.

Large-scale alternations are not the only way to reduce energy consumption in a building. Small initiatives can also create substantial savings. Last year, the Empire State Building completed a changeover to more environmentally-friendly light bulbs which are expected to save thousands of dollars in energy costs. Energy-efficient buildings can attract new tenants by helping them save money and showing a commitment to the environment.

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