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4 Green Building Certifications That Make Properties More Appealing

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Green building concepts usually focus on making residential, industrial, and commercial buildings more efficient. Green building certifications often identify a broad range of issues that contribute to reducing the negative impact that buildings have on the environment. According to the World Green Building Council, some of the most important features that make a building “green” include:

  • Using water and energy efficiently.
  • Relying on renewable energy.
  • Improving indoor air quality.
  • Using non-toxic, ethically sourced materials.
  • Reducing pollution and waste.

Developers can satisfy these needs in several ways. The best approach often depends on the location. It makes sense for a building in Los Angeles to generate energy from on-site solar panels because the city has about 284 sunny days per year. Seattle, however, only gets about 152 days of sun on average, so solar panels may not contribute as much to meeting the qualifications of a green building certification. Instead, developers may want to build thicker walls that reduce energy consumption by retaining heat.

Why Green Building Certifications Make Properties Appealing

As a real estate professional, you might want to take some time to learn about the benefits of green building certifications. The more you know, the better you can use certifications to make properties more attractive. You may also find that encouraging clients to seek green building certifications helps them sell their properties faster at higher prices.

Better Efficiency Leads to Long-Term Savings

Buildings that qualify for green building certifications typically have efficient systems that help owners save money over time. It might cost a little more to purchase the property, but the savings accumulate over years and decades.
Energy prices vary significantly across the country. In Oklahoma, electricity costs about 7.86 cents per kWh. Alaska residents can expect to spend over 20 cents per kWh.
Regardless of your local energy prices, you can expect to save money by using more efficient buildings. If an owner can lower energy expenses by 25%, those savings add up year after year. Lower energy expenses will also help attract renters responsible for paying for utilities.

Ensure Compliance With Future Regulations

No one knows exactly how building, energy, and water regulations will change over the next few decades. Most people expect that state governments will pass stricter regulations. Some buildings might not have to follow new rules. Others will have to conform to updated expectations.
If you can qualify for green building certifications now, you don’t have to worry as much about future regulations. More likely than not, you already exceed them. As a real estate broker, you can use this point to convince buyers to choose more efficient properties.

Efficient Buildings Create Less Pollution

The International Energy Agency reports that 39% of the planet’s energy-related carbon emissions are connected to buildings. Most of that energy goes to heating, cooling, and lighting indoor spaces. Many people don’t think about the effects of harvesting and transporting the materials needed to construct buildings. Regardless, materials account for about 11% of a building’s overall carbon emissions.
Buildings contribute to emissions other than carbon dioxide, but the greenhouse gas stands out for its notorious effect on global climate change. Carbon dioxide accounts for 76% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
When developers follow guidelines to meet green building certification requirements, they must take steps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emissions they cause. Some experts believe that better efficiency and a cleaner power grid could reduce energy-related building emissions by nearly 80% by 2050. The result would make air cleaner for people to breathe and slow the progress of climate change.

Consumers Want to Support Eco-Friendly Brands

Some businesses dismiss green building initiatives because they think meeting requirements will cost too much money. Even the most profit-driven corporation, however, can benefit from green building certifications.
Today’s consumers prefer businesses that take corporate responsibility seriously. In a 208 study, 60% of respondents said that they want to support businesses committed to improving the environment by doing things like reducing plastic, using less energy, and cutting emissions.
If you have a client looking to purchase commercial or industrial space, you can position green buildings as a way to build a brand that attracts customers willing to spend more money on companies that support a healthy planet.

The Top 4 Green Building Certifications in the U.S.

#1: LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)

The U.S. Green Building Council has several green building certifications that builders and owners can receive when they meet certain standards. Communities, cities, and neighborhood developments can also apply for LEED green building certifications. Some of the most popular certifications include:

  • Building Design and Construction (BD+C)
  • Interior Design and Construction (ID+C)
  • Building Operations and Maintenance (O+M)
  • Neighborhood Development (ND)
  • LEED Zero

Ideally, projects begin by selecting a LEED rating system, understanding the minimum requirements, and developing the building to meet certification requirements. Developers need to consider that LEED certification goes beyond construction requirements. The green building certification also looks at policies regarding energy, purchasing, waste, and site management. Meeting the certification requirements after completing construction doesn’t ensure that the building will keep its LEED green building certification. In fact, all projects must recertify at least once every five years.
According to the U.S. Green Building Council, applicants should take the following steps:

  1. Choose a LEED rating system.
  2. Check the minimum program requirements.
  3. Define the LEED project scope.
  4. Develop a LEED scorecard.
  5. Assign roles and responsibilities for people involved in the application and documentation process.
  6. Set a performance period during which the building gets tested for LEED credits.
  7. Performance a quality assurance review.
  8. Submit for LEED certification.

Visit LEED Online to create an account and manage your application process.

Earn Higher LEED Certifications

The U.S. Green Building Council uses a scorecard to determine how well buildings and policies align with their objectives. Scoring 40 to 49 points will earn you a LEED certification. Higher levels of certifications include:

  • Silver (50 to 59 points)
  • Gold (60 to 79 points)
  • Platinum (80+ points)

The more advanced your certification is, the more appealing your building will look to potential tenants and buyers.


Most people know ENERGY STAR as a government program managed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that identifies energy-efficient appliances. The program also has one of the most affordable green building certification programs in the country.
ENERGY STAR reports that its certified buildings use 35% less energy than similar properties around the U.S. Getting certified also means that you can lease space to the federal government.
Technically, you don’t have to pay for your ENERGY STAR green building certification. You will, however, end up spending some money getting your building inspected. You might also have to pay for upgrades to get an ENERGY STAR rating of 75 or higher on a 100-point scale, which you need for certification.

#3: National Green Building Standard (NGBS)

The National Green Building Standard has four levels of green building certification:

  • NGBS Bronze
  • NGBS Silver
  • NGBS Gold
  • NGBS Emerald

NGBS Emerald homes meet exceptional standards in energy efficiency, water efficiency, indoor environmental quality, and other metrics.
NGBS certifications only apply to residential buildings. To get certified, you can contact a specialist at an organization like Home Innovation Research Labs. While NGBS sets standards, it does not perform certification reviews.

#4: Green Globes

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) issues Green Globes to buildings that score 35% or higher on its 1,000-point system. The more Green Globes a building earns, the less of a negative impact it has on the health of humans and the planet.
Currently, GBI awards up to four Green Globes:

  • One Green Globe (35-54%)
  • Two Green Globes (55-69%)
  • Three Green Globes (70-84%)
  • Four Green Globes (85-100%)

Only buildings that show world-class leadership qualify for four Green Globes. Like inspectors working with most green building certification programs, professionals look at factors like energy efficiency, water use, emissions, and indoor air quality. Each assessment acknowledges areas where the property excels while providing feedback for potential improvements.
Green Globes pricing varies depending on your property and the assessor services you need. At the very least, owners will spend $1,500. Interested parties should submit a request quote form to get a more accurate price estimate.

ProspectNow Helps You Target Green Building Owners and Buyers

Knowing whether properties have green building certifications can help you match them to buyers who take the environment, efficiency, and health seriously. Before you can make these connections, you need a database that tells you about properties and potential buyers.
ProspectNow has in-depth residential and commercial databases that you can use to pair buyers with green buildings for sale. Schedule a demo to see how ProspectNow can help you save time while finalizing more deals.

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