The U.S. commercial real estate industry has made some significant strides on the sustainability front recently. Caught between altruistic reasons for pursuing green development and management and the need to justify it financially, a group of largely unsophisticated market players has tended to take easy, predetermined paths without fully scrutinizing the results. But as executives grow familiar with sustainability, they are evaluating green practices more strategically—and implementing those measures into more properties and even entire portfolios.
That trend gave rise in 2010 to the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Volume Program, which now counts a diverse assortment of 46 investors, retailers, schools and government agencies that certify large numbers of new projects, existing properties or both. Such commitment remains the purview of the most sophisticated sustainability-minded players, according to consultant Tom Paladino, who helped to develop LEED ratings and write the reference guides for the soon-to-be-launched version 4 update. But he reports that stepped-up involvement by industry leaders and proven benefits at the property level are also fueling broad interest in a more strategic approach to sustainable design.
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