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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, August 2018

Chicago Again Tops Green Building Adoption Index

Chicago Skyline
Image courtesy of Related Midwest


A TrustBelt city that has been wracking up a lot of accolades lately just added one more: the No. 1 ranking in the fifth annual U.S. Green Building Adoption Index by CBRE and Maastricht University.

In case you’re wondering, the winner is Chicago, which claimed the top spot for the second year in a row with nearly 70 percent of its space certified as green. “Green” office buildings in the U.S. are those that hold either an EPA Energy Star label, USGBC LEED certification, or both.

Top 5 Green Building Cities in the U.S.

  1. Chicago
  2. San Francisco
  3. Atlanta
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Minneapolis
Source: U.S. Green Building Adoption Index by CBRE and Maastricht University.

The top five cities in this year’s ranking are Chicago, with 236.5 million square feet of office space certified as green, or 69.8 percent of its market, followed by San Francisco (64 percent), Atlanta (58.4 percent), Los Angeles (56.3 percent) and Minneapolis (55 percent).

“From moving to 100 percent renewable energy in our public buildings, to supporting our private partners as they work to reduce emissions, Chicago is showcasing to the world the impact that cities can have on climate change for their residents and for people around the world,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. “This national recognition is a testament to the progress and success of our efforts to improve our environment while bettering communities across Chicago.”

The CBRE honor comes on the heels of Chicago taking home the second-place finish in Site Selection magazine’s annual Sustainability Rankings, published in July.

The Site Selection scorecard includes global corporate social responsibility measures from CSRHub, which tracks green corporate behavior and policies globally. That means areas get credit for hosting headquarters and other facility projects from high-CSR companies.

In the 2018 Sustainability Rankings in Site Selection, Cincinnati took home the No. 1 spot, beating out Chicago and Boston. Other TrustBelt cities to crack the top 10 included No. 7 Louisville, No. 9 Minneapolis and No. 10 Pittsburgh.

In a separate ranking of the 40 Most Sustainably Powered U.S. Cities, by Commercial Café, published August 1, Chicago ranked 30th. The top TrustBelt city on this list was Minneapolis, at No. 6. Pittsburgh came in at No. 21, while Indianapolis ranked No. 27. St. Louis ranked 33rd, Columbus 34th, and Cleveland 36th.

Chicago’s win in the CBRE Green Building Index, for the second year in a row, captured a lot of attention. Mark Peterson, president and CEO of Intersect Illinois, said, “We are pleased to see that Chicago is once again home to the most green buildings in the country, defending its title as the greenest city in America. Illinois is at the forefront of America’s clean energy economy, with ambitious plans to continue its zero-carbon pursuit, and Chicago once again claiming this title is testament that we are moving in the right direction.”

Andrea Zopp, president and CEO of World Business Chicago, said, “Chicago has heavily invested in environmental sustainability standards, creating a culture of green business practices that results in the city continually ranking as one of the top U.S. cities for sustainable design and development. The corporate community has taken notice. Investing in green buildings is a smart business decision that provides greater energy efficiency while creating buildings that are more attractive to businesses seeking to relocate.”

“Chicago has heavily invested in environmental sustainability standards, creating a culture of green business practices that results in the city continually ranking as one of the top U.S. cities for sustainable design and development.”
Andrea Zopp, President & CEO, World Business Chicago

One reason Chicago scores highly on this and other indices is because it fosters a culture that rewards innovation. When the organization 2thinknow recently released its annual ranking of the Most Innovative Cities in the World, Chicago ranked 11th. Its index score of 53 trailed world leader Tokyo and second-place London by just 3 points. Only San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles and Boston scored higher than Chicago, among U.S. cities, on the list.

Data innovation agency 2thinknow has created services and programs designed to support innovation in cities, business and government. 2thinknow was established as a global innovation agency in 2006.

Ron Starner
Executive Vice President of Conway, Inc.

Ron Starner

Ron Starner is Executive Vice President of Conway Data, Inc. He has been with Conway Data for 22 years and serves as a writer and editor for both Site Selection and the company's Custom Content publishing division. His Twitter handle is @RonStarner.


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