LEED-certified buildings have been around for more than a decade and studies into the true value of their certification are turning up some surprising results. Getting your building LEED certified adds value not only to real estate income, but also to the asset-value of your real estate. Savings are compounded by low utility bills, better employee retention rates and fewer sick days.
Better for Business
A recent study by the University of Notre Dame discovered another interesting benefit; when they compared 93 LEED-certified bank branches with 469 uncertified branches of the same bank, they found the branches housed in LEED-certified buildings significantly outperformed their rivals. Professors Edward Conlon and Ante Glavas compared branches of PNC Financial Services Group and found that the LEED-certified facilities had over $3 million more in deposit balances in each facility every year. The LEED branches opened 458 more deposit accounts, 25 more loan accounts and boasted almost $1 million more in loan balances annually. After factoring in all the variables, the LEED-certified branches netted $461, 300 more per employee per year.
Lower running costs
Not only did LEED-certified branches enjoy more business, but they also paid less in utilities with a saving of $675 for each employee every year. Tom Paladino is responsible for the green branch developments: “These findings show that return on investment in green building is not only quantifiable in terms of money saved on operational expenses, but that other ‘intangibles’ like the impact of sustainability on brand reputation may directly influence customer choices. While other studies have shown that employees are happier and more productive in green buildings, this study demonstrates the business value inherent in comprehensive and third-party-validated sustainability programs.”
The benefits of LEED-certified buildings for employees are legion. Improved air quality reduces fatigue, allergies and respiratory problems. Natural lighting reduces the risk of cancer, improves mood and increases concentration. A study by Michigan State University found that productivity in LEED-certified buildings improved by 2.18% which is an extra 39 hours a year for each employee. They also discovered that absenteeism dropped and employee retention rates improved. Workers suffered less from stress and depression and the hours which asthma and respiratory ailments affected workers every month dropped to 6.32, down from 16.28 hours. Replacing an employee can cost a business anywhere from $20 000 to $50 000, so increased job retention rates translate into huge savings for businesses.
LEED-certified buildings are much more environmentally friendly. They use 25-50% less electricity, 40% less water and produce 70% less solid waste on average. The green house gas emissions of LEED buildings are reduced by up to 35%. This environmentally friendly approach is popular with tenants and green buildings enjoy higher occupancy rates and demand higher rentals than their conventional counterparts.
In the US alone, buildings account for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. By building green, industries help to improve the air and water quality, improve biodiversity, reduce waste and conserve our dwindling natural resources. Improved health and wellbeing of the building occupants also improves quality of life, increases the value of the building and increases sales. Building greener simply makes sense on every level.