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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, March 2016
WEB Exclusive story

Maps to the Stars

Energy-efficiency efforts far and wide come together in buildings holding these top designations.

Certified LEED-CS Platinum, Shanghai Tower is among the growing number of LEED-certified buildings in Chinese cities.
Image courtesy of Gensler


Regardless of their niche, service providers to corporate space occupiers all have the same goal: matching that client's workforce with the best possible workplace. Brokers, architects, building managers, developers, construction managers, lawyers, HVAC and environmental experts, accountants and maintenance professionals all conspire to deliver that ultimate prize. Where are those providers delivering the best? Working backwards from building award and certification winners offers some clues.

Most agree, for instance, that LEED-certified space is desirable. More than 52,000 commercial, neighborhood and residential projects comprising more than 5 billion sq. ft. of space in all 50 US states and more than 150 other countries and territories are currently certified under the US Green Building Council's program for the design, construction, maintenance and operations of green buildings. According to the 2015 USGBC Green Building Economic Impact Study, green construction will account for more than 3.3 million US jobs — more than one-third of the entire U.S. construction sector — and generate $190.3 billion in labor earnings. The niche’s direct contribution to US GDP is expected to reach $303.5 billion from 2015–2018.

USGBC just released the 2015 Top 10 States for LEED, including commercial and institutional green building projects that were certified in 2015 alone. USGBC calculates the list using per-capita figures to fairly compare states with significant differences in population and number of overall buildings:

2015 Top 10 States for LEED

Rank State Gross Square Footage (gsf) Per-capita Certified GSF Total No. Projects
1 Illinois 43,979,595 3.43 161
2 Maryland 17,659,881 3.06 127
3 Massachusetts 19,850,624 3.03 112
4 Washington 17,450,321 2.60 101
5 Colorado 12,218,992 2.43 95
6 Nevada 6,534,960 2.42 30
7 California 87,358,563 2.34 618
8 Texas 52,445,321 2.09 237
9 Virginia 13,005,968 1.63 121
10 Utah 4,494,301 1.63 31
** DC 11,612,237 19.30 84
**Washington, D.C. is not ranked, due to its status as a federal territory, but it continues to lead the nation in LEED-certified buildings, with 19.3 square feet of space per resident certified in 2015.

For the third year in a row, Illinois ranks No. 1, with 161 LEED certifications in 2015, or 3.43 sq. ft. of certified space per resident. "Illinois and Colorado (No. 5) are the only to states to have made the list every year," said the USGBC. Massachusetts moved up to No. 3 in 2015 from No. 5 in 2014. And Utah made the Top 10 for the first time. "Utah’s emergence as a green building hub," said the USGBC, "demonstrates how LEED is expanding beyond states with dense populations." In terms of straight numbers, California last year saw 618 projects LEED-certified, totaling over 87 million square feet — the most out of all states listed.

Green Goes Global

Worldwide, 4,837 projects were certified in 2015, representing 818.9 million sq. ft. — the most space LEED-certified in a single year.

"That number, which represents a whopping 21-percent increase in certified space over 2014, is a clear indication of the global impact of LEED," said the USGBC.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in China — so much so that the USGBC released in January a separate Top 10 ranking for provinces and municipalities in the People's Republic.

Absolute Rank China mainland provinces and municipalities LEED Gross Sq. M. Certified in 2015 Population
1 Shanghai 2,462,439 20,019,148
2 Guangdong 1,066,661 104,303,132
3 Beijing 1,044,298 19,612,368
4 Tianjin 669,276 12,938,224
5 Sichuan 585,931 80,418,200
6 Zhejiang 510,126 54,426,891
7 Jiangsu 499,279 78,659,903
8 Liaoning 394,104 43,746,323
9 Chongqing 289,954 28,846,170
10 Henan 271,841 94,023,567

"The announcement comes at a time of increased environmental awareness across China that has enabled sustainability to gain vast social and political traction," said the USGBC. "Heightened concerns over unsafe levels of PM2.5 air pollution in major population centers such as Beijing and Shanghai have helped to demonstrate the important role that green buildings play in maintaining the health and wellness of the Chinese people. Additionally, China has pledged to cap its emissions by 2030, and coal emissions in China fell 2 percent last year — further underscoring the country’s commitment to sustainability."

A BOMA spokesperson says these are the top 10 states for BOMA 360 designations, in order:

  1. Texas
  2. California
  3. Virginia
  4. D.C.
  5. Georgia
  6. New York
  7. Florida
  8. Illinois
  9. Pennsylvania
  10. Maryland

Five of the top 10 Chinese cities are located in the developed coastal region (Shanghai, Guangdong, Tianjin, Zhejiang and Jiangsu); Sichuan and Chongqing are in the western inland region, Liaoning is in the northeast; and Henan and Beijing are in central China.

Compare and Contrast ... or Combine

There's another sustainability-oriented building program gaining steam. Its numbers pale in comparison with LEED, but its scope and evidence may make it the perfect complement to the USGBC program.

Since its debut in 2009, the BOMA 360 Performance Program — which evaluates commercial properties on building operations and management; life safety/security/risk management; training and education; energy; environment/sustainability; and tenant relations/community involvement — has conferred more than 1,200 designations in more than 70 global markets.

The graphs below shows the top metro areas by number of designations, as well as the leading BOMA 360 building management companies.

Top BOMA 360 Markets

BOMA International pointed out in November that BOMA 360 buildings continue to outperform buildings without the 360 designation when it comes to rental income, even if those properties already have a LEED certification.

Analysis was conducted using the information found in BOMA International’s 2015 Office Experience Exchange Report (Office EER), which aggregates office-sector income and expense data from the previous year; 2014 data was gathered from more than 5,300 buildings in 275 markets in the US and Canada representing more than 820 million sq. ft. Buildings with the BOMA 360 designation averaged $4.89 per sq. ft. (psf) more in total rental income than buildings without the designation. "This performance gap also has widened significantly, up $2.74 since last year," said BOMA.

Top BOMA 360 Companies

The analysis also found that LEED-certified properties that also earned a BOMA 360 designation averaged $1.73 psf more in total rental income than buildings that only achieved LEED certification.

"While LEED serves as an important measure of sustainability, the BOMA 360 designation covers a much broader range of criteria, providing a more holistic validation of operational and management best practices," BOMA reported.

“Properties that do more, achieve more,” said George Denise, chair of the BOMA 360 Performance Program Council and director of operations and sustainability for Oracle. “Earning the BOMA 360 designation or certifying through LEED will benefit your property. However, as the analysis shows, property professionals who earn both BOMA 360 and LEED together will reap the biggest benefits.”

Capella Tower in Minneapolis in 2015 was named The Outstanding Building of the Year in the Over One Million Square Feet category by BOMA International. Owned by Minneapolis 225 Holdings LLC and managed by Ryan Companies US, Inc., the building earned its BOMA 360 designation in December 2011.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Companies

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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