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RICS Study: No Premium for LEED-Certified Commercial Office Buildings

Last week, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (“RICS”) released the results of a study authored by Piet Eichholtz and Nils Kok of Maastricht University and John Quigley of Berkeley. Titled “Doing Well By Doing Good? An Analysis of the Financial Performance of Green Office Buildings in the USA,” the purpose of the study was to determine whether investors are currently willing to pay any premium for green (Energy Star- and LEED-certified) commercial office buildings and, if so, what that premium is. The authors identified 1360 buildings- 286 LEED-certified, 1045 Energy Star-certified, and 29 certified under both systems- and were able to obtain complete building characteristics and monthly rents from CoStar for 649 of them, as well as sales data for 199 buildings that swapped hands between 2004 and 2007. To create a pool of peer buildings, the authors used the CoStar database to identify all other office buildings within a quarter mile radius of the subject green building to create a “cluster” of buildings for each of the 893 subject buildings. The study concluded that “the type of label matters. We find consistent and statistically significant effects in the marketplace for the Energy Star-labeled buildings. We find no significant market effects associated with the LEED label. Energy Star concentrates on energy use, while the LEED label is much broader in scope. Our results suggest that tenants and investors are willing to pay more for an energy-efficient building, but not for a building advertised as ‘sustainable’ in a broader sense.”

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