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Metro Atlanta ranks 3rd in nation for green-certified office buildings: CBRE

kendeda building, marquee

The Kendeda Building is designed to strict standards of sustainability and is now featured on a BBC website about models of sustainable design and construction. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

By David Pendered

Metro Atlanta ranks third in the United States for the proportion of market certified green space in office buildings, according to a new report by CBRE. The report comes as former President Obama is to take a stage Wednesday at a green building conference in Atlanta, and Georgia Tech has opened the ultra sustainable Kendeda Building.

kendeda building, marquee

The Kendeda Building is designed to strict standards of sustainability that Diana Blank, who donated $30 million for the project at Georgia Tech, hopes will inspire future generations to ‘change the world’ of the built environment. File/Credit: Kelly Jordan

The top five markets, according to the report, are: Chicago; San Francisco; Atlanta; Minneapolis/St. Paul; and Los Angeles.

In metro Atlanta, the market shift toward sustainable office buildings has continued over the previous year, the report showed. The report showed 59 percent of the region’s office space is ranked green, compared to 58 percent the prior year.

Obama’s administration helped set the stage for the move toward sustainable structures. The Better Buildings Initiative, sponsored by the Energy Department, provided incentives to public and private owners to improve the energy efficiency of their portfolio by at least 20 percent over a decade, and to share their strategies and results, according to a report by the DOE.

Obama is slated to deliver the keynote speech at the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo.

Sustainable buildings have developed a following among tenants, which is translating to lower default rates, according to the report.

Marie Kastens, CBRE’s property management managing director, noted in the company’s statement that tenants are coming to value sustainability and transit as they select sites.

“Green buildings with experiential shared amenity space and direct transit access can have a tremendous impact on their tenants as they are designed to fulfill connectivity demands in a creative work environment,” Kastens said. “One prime example in Atlanta’s Central Perimeter market is Twelve24, a new LEED Certified Class A+, 346,000 square foot mixed-use development by Trammell Crow Co.”

airport, varsity

Sustainability experts are to assist Atlanta’s airport, which consumes nearly half of all energy used by the City of Atlanta and is expected to reduce energy waste and increase the use of renewable energy. File/Credit: David Pendered

CBRE’s statement observed that research shows default rates are lower among green office buildings. The report, conducted by CBRE in conjunction with Maastricht University and University of Guelph, and in partnership with the National Multifamily Housing Council, observed:

  • Recent research shows that commercial mortgages collateralized by green-certified office buildings have significantly lower default rates, which implies that it may be beneficial for lenders to factor the energy and sustainability performance of buildings into mortgage pricing.”

Nationwide, the Green Building Adoption Index reported green certified office space at 42.2 percent, up from 41.9 percent the prior years, according to a statement from CBRE. The space was counted in green-certified buildings that represent 13.8 percent of all commercial office buildings in the 30 largest U.S. markets.

Green buildings are defined as those designated as ENERGY STAR or LEED certified, according to the report, which provided the following descriptions:

  • “The ENERGY STAR program, introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), focuses specifically on energy efficiency. To qualify for an ENERGY STAR label, a building’s energy efficiency must be in the top 25 percent of all buildings in the peer set, defined by a national census of buildings.
  • ”The LEED program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), considers the broader concept of sustainability. Certifications are available for different classifications and categories, including new construction (NC), core & shell (CS) and existing buildings (EB).”

The Kendeda Building opened in October on Tech’s campus as an effort to reduce the environmental impact of office buildings, and even to improve their impact by producing more clean water and electricity than they produce. A description of the project and its benefactor’s thoughts are available at the Living Building Chronicle.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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