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BOMA NEWS - April 2, 2024

The Hidden Value of Sustainable Building Certifications

By Jacques-Yves Bouchard

Critical to the success of commercial real estate’s sustainability-focused business model is understanding that there is real value in a sustainable certification program beyond the actual certification. The best green certification programs are set up with the understanding that the thrill is in the chase. While assuring that your building is as sustainable as possible is the main focus of the certification program, the ancillary benefits also carry economic weight.

Specifically, commercial real estate owners are learning that green building certifications not only reduce their asset’s environmental impact but enhance property values, reduce operational costs, and increase rents and tenant retention. This can be true regardless of the building’s age or asset class.

When selecting the best certification for your building, it is essential to understand that each program has different areas of strength. For example, BOMA BEST focuses on existing buildings which allows building owners to capitalize on their spaces by analyzing and optimizing them for operations and maintenance.

Regardless of the program, here are three reasons beyond the actual certification that building owners and managers are choosing to invest in building certifications:

  1. Increased property value

When buying or managing a building, one of the primary drivers is maintaining and increasing its long-term value. Sustainable building certifications can significantly impact property values in several ways:

  1. Enhanced Image: Certifications enhance the image of a facility, making it more appealing to potential tenants and investors. Green buildings are highly regarded in today’s market, and they can command higher lease rates.
  2. Higher Rents: Ali Hoss, Chief Sustainability Officer at Triovest, reports that their BOMA BEST certified properties could achieve rents up to 4% higher than non-certified properties. This rent-premium, coupled with cost savings from lower utility usage, will maximize the value of the property.
  3. Future-Proofing: Building owners want to ensure their investments meet current and future needs without compromising their financial flexibility. Sustainable buildings are better equipped to meet these demands.
  1. Lower Operating and Maintenance Costs
    Sustainable building certifications are not just about being environmentally responsible; they also contribute to significant cost savings in building maintenance. Here’s how:  
    1. Energy and Water Efficiency: Certified buildings are more energy-efficient, lowering utility costs. A BOMA BEST Gold Office Building can save an average of $50,000 per year on energy costs, while platinum-certified buildings can save an average of $260,000 per year on water costs.
    2. Financial Upside: Lower operational costs translate into more money saved, making the certification process a priority worth pursuing. This cost-effectiveness can lead to better financial outcomes for building owners.

3. Supports the Achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals

As our planet grapples with the growing issue of climate change, it’s essential to address the environmental impact of buildings. Sustainable building certifications play a crucial role in this regard:

  1. Carbon Reduction: The UN recently reported that CO2 emissions from buildings reached a new high, indicating the need for drastic action. Certified projects typically use fewer resources and embrace circular economy principles to reduce overall environmental impact. Certified buildings can significantly lower the carbon, water, energy, and waste required to maintain their physical assets, reducing GHG emissions by 85%.
  2. Health and Productivity: Certified buildings provide cleaner indoor environments, improving employee health and productivity. Healthy, sustainable workspaces can lead to a more motivated and efficient workforce.

Getting Started

If you are a building owner or manager looking to certify your buildings, keep the following points in mind:

  • Sustainability is not just about loosely incorporating strategies; it’s about validation and credibility. Third-party certification processes provide the assurance that sustainability was properly implemented.
  • Look for a program that is designed to work specifically with your asset type, not all programs are designed for all asset types. To get the best results you want a program that considers all the nuances of each building asset type.
  • Consider engaging with stakeholders, including tenants and staff, about the benefits and changes the certification may bring. Let them understand how they will benefit and can leverage what the certification brings.
  • Finally, the certification should be viewed as an ongoing commitment to improvement rather than a one-time achievement. For more details, refer to specific certification programs for comprehensive guidelines.

Sustainable building certifications offer a powerful and holistic approach to creating a more environmentally responsible, cost-effective, and valuable property. Whether you’re motivated by financial gains, environmental responsibility, or employee well-being, a green building certification is a smart choice for building owners and managers looking to secure a sustainable future.

To learn more about sustainable building certifications, reach out to info@bomabest.org