New Studies Reinforce Benefit of LEED and Energy Star Buildings

We recieved a press release from the folks at the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) that outlined two recent studies that are relevant to apartment owners.

The two studies, one done by the New Buildings Institute (NBI) and one by the CoStar Group, demonstrate not only the savings on energy costs of LEED and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) certified buildings, but that they also outperform their non-certified cohorts.

According to the NBI study, USBGC Gold and Platinum certified buildings are able to save almost 50 percent on their energy bills. EPA Energy Star certified buildings also use an average of 40 percent less energy than average buildings.

Perhaps even more notable, and of particular interest to apartment owners is that the CoStar Study reported that LEED buildings have rent premiums that are $11.24 per square foot higher and have a 3.8 percent higher occupancy rate. For Energy Star buildings, the respective figures are $2.38 per square foot and 3.6 percent.

These new reports quantify the the long term benefits for apartment owners of making green improvements to their apartment buildings. Demand for green apartments seems to be on the rise, as more renters are looking to rent an apartment that is environmentally friendly.

Last week, the MyNewPlace blog posted an article highlighted a section of the Economic Stimulus Act that would allow apartment owners to make these types of improvements and upgrades. The tax write offs that are designed to promote commercial construction also apply to leasehold improvements in apartment buildings.

Since the major reason that apartment owners shy away from making these improvements are the high initial costs, the tax break, which allows for 50 percent of these expenditures to be deducted from taxable net income, significantly decreases the up front cost.

Given that this tax break would mitigate the initial cost of the project, coupled with the data from these new studies, apartment owners would be prudent to consider LEED or Engergy Star Certification.

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