CBRE, Maastricht University Rank Washington, D.C., as 10th Greenest U.S. City

Washington, D.C. is working hard to become one of the greenest cities in the United States and in the world. And its efforts seem to be paying off. Recently, CBRE Group, Inc. and Maastricht University, a public university in Maastricht, the Netherlands, have released the 2014 Green Building Adoption Index,

By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor

Washington, D.C., is working hard to become one of the greenest cities in the United States and the world, and its efforts seem to be paying off. CBRE Group Inc. and Maastricht University, of the Netherlands, released their 2014 Green Building Adoption Index, ranking the 30 U.S. cities with the highest percentage of green commercial space. Washington, D.C., occupies the 10th place on the list.

With a total of 3,671 buildings, Washington, D.C., is the second-largest commercial office market in the nation. Of these, 247 are certified, representing 79 million square feet of office space. According to the study, 42.2 percent of all square footage in the Washington, D.C., market is certified as green.

Furthermore, 32.5 percent of all square footage in D.C. is Energy Star labeled, ranking the city eighth in this category. The city also took eighth place in the number of LEED buildings category, with 6.7 percent of all of its buildings, or 20.5 percent of all square footage, holding some type of LEED certification.

“We’ve seen a marked increase in the number of green buildings in the Washington region in recent years, fueled in part by growing demand from tenants, led by the federal government, our largest landlord, for more sustainable and energy-efficient space,” said John Germano, CBRE’s executive managing director for the Washington, D.C., area, in a statement for the press. “In a culture where environmental sustainability in the workplace has become mainstream, Washington’s ranking among the top 10 cities for green commercial buildings solidifies D.C.’s leadership of the green building movement.”

Green commercial real estate has increased significantly since 2005 all over the United States. According to the study, Energy Star-labeled buildings increased by nearly 600 percent, while the proportion of buildings that are LEED certified rose from less than 0.5 percent in 2005 to 5 percent, an increase of more than 1,000 percent.

Minneapolis is ranked as the ”greenest” city in the nation, with 77 percent of its commercial real estate certified as green. The top 10 also includes:

  • San Francisco (67.2%)
  • Chicago (62.1%)
  • Houston (54.8%)
  • Atlanta (54.1%)
  • Los Angeles (49.7%)
  • Denver (49.3%)
  • Seattle (46.6%)
  • Miami (46.0%)
  • Washington, D.C. (42.2%)

Nearby Baltimore is also present among the 30 cities. It occupies 26th place, with 16.9 percent of all square footage in the market certified as green.

The Green Building Adoption Index is the first project completed under CBRE’s Real Green Research Challenge, a $1 million commitment launched in September 2012 to fund leading-edge sustainability research and innovation in commercial real estate. Dr. Nils Kok, associate professor in finance and real estate at Maastricht University, led the study. It uses Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star and USGBC LEED statistical data from 2005 through 2013.

“This is the first study to quantify the relevance of green building practices in the commercial real estate market,” said Dr. Kok. “While we all know examples of LEED-certified buildings, the results presented here are facts based on a robust methodology, not anecdotal evidence. The evidence shows that green has become mainstream in all major U.S. cities.”

“We have all seen the rapid growth in the number of green-certified buildings in the markets in which we work; however, we were quite surprised to see how large the numbers actually are. Green is absolutely the new norm,” said Dave Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility. “We wanted to do something in the built environment to help advance the discussion of sustainability. With the Real Green Research Challenge, we have the opportunity to affect the entire real estate industry and have a lasting effect on the way real estate is built, occupied and financed, and in doing so be a force for positive environmental change.”

Charts courtesy of CBRE.