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Study finds increased productivity, lower vacancy, higher rents in green buildings

By Ann Withanee, November 20, 2009—A landmark study conducted by the University of San Diego and CB Richard Ellis Group, Inc (CBRE) has found that tenants in green buildings experience increased productivity and fewer sick days, and that green buildings have lower vacancy and higher rental rates. The report, "Do Green Buildings Make Dollars and Sense?" is the result of a year-long research effort and is the largest study of its kind to date.

The research was overseen by Dr. Norm Miller, academic director and professor at the University of San Diego's Burnham-Moores Center for Real Estate and was conducted in collaboration with CBRE's national director of sustainability.

The research found that tenants in green buildings are more productive, based on two measures: the average number of tenant sick days and the self-reported productivity change. Respondents reported an average of 2.88 fewer sick days in their current green office versus their previous non-green office, and about 55 percent of respondents indicated that employee productivity had improved. Based on the average tenant salary, an office space of 250 square feet per worker and 250 workdays a year, the decrease in sick days translated into a net impact of nearly $5.00 per square foot occupied, and the increase in productivity translated into a net impact of about $20 per square foot occupied, according to the study.

The study additionally showed that green buildings have 3.5 percent lower vacancy rates and 13 percent higher rental rates than the market.

The project looked at 154 buildings under CBRE's management, totaling more than 51.6 million square feet and housing 3,000 tenants in ten markets across the U.S. The study defined green buildings as those with LEED certification at any level or those that bear the EPA ENERGY STAR label. All of the ENERGY STAR buildings in the survey group had been awarded that label since 2008. Most of the buildings included in the research had also adopted other sustainable practices like recycling, green cleaning and water conservation.

For more information, see the Web site.

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