Green building certification programs like LEED, BREEAM, Green Globes and other sustainable building rating systems provide a framework to help optimize the environmental and human health impacts of buildings. Receiving certification demonstrates that a building was designed and built using strategies that improve performance in key areas like energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor air quality, stewardship of resources and more. Some of the top benefits of green building certification include:
Improved Energy Efficiency – Certified green buildings are designed, constructed and operated with energy efficiency top of mind. This includes utilizing more efficient HVAC, lighting and appliances. Studies have found LEED certified buildings use 25-30% less energy compared to conventional buildings. Reducing energy consumption lowers ongoing utility costs for owners and is better for the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel power plants.
Water Savings – Sustainable design prioritizes using water more efficiently both indoors and outdoors. This incorporates high-efficiency plumbing fixtures, drought-resistant landscaping, capturing rainwater, and reuse of greywater. On average, green buildings save 20-30% on water use compared to non-green buildings. With water becoming scarcer in many areas, certification helps future-proof buildings for a more water-constrained world.
Enhanced Indoor Air Quality – Improving indoor environmental quality is a core tenet of green building. This is done through measures like low-emitting materials, enhanced ventilation, monitoring systems, green cleaning policies and bringing more access to outdoor views and natural daylight. Occupants benefit from better indoor air quality which can improve health, wellness and productivity. Various studies have linked improved air quality to reduced absenteeism and healthcare costs.
Reduced Carbon Emissions – As green buildings require less energy to operate, this leads to lower carbon emissions from that reduced energy consumption. Life cycle assessments also account for embodied carbon in building materials and construction processes. On average, LEED certified buildings generate 35% less carbon emissions over a 60 year lifespan versus regular buildings. As the effects of climate change intensify, lower-carbon buildings play an important role in mitigating future impacts.
Resource Efficiency – Sustainability also means using resources more efficiently and conserving raw materials. This can include utilizing construction waste management plans, recycling demolition debris, minimizing the footprint of the building, specifying recycled content and regional materials, and adopting lifecycle approaches to products and materials. Cumulatively this lightens the environmental footprint and steward’s natural resources for future generations.
Enhanced Durability & Resilience – Designing for sustainability means optimizing long-term performance. Green buildings are constructed with durable, high quality products and systems well-suited to withstand local weather events and endure for decades into the future. This longevity also aids disaster resilience against hazards like hurricanes, flooding, wildfires which climate change is exacerbating. Adaptability features can help buildings respond to changing needs over their lifespan too.
Improved Occupant Health & Well-Being – The indoor environments of green buildings foster better physical and mental health. Natural daylight, outdoor views and high air quality boost health, mood and cognition. Biophilic design connects people with nature. Low toxicity materials avoid harmful off-gassing. Acoustic performance supports focus and collaboration. All together these attributes can increase comfort, wellness and job satisfaction among occupants.
Financial & Economic Benefits – While green building may cost marginally more up front, certification delivers notable long-term financial returns. Numerous case studies and analysis have found the economic value of reduced utility and maintenance costs over a building’s lifetime often exceed its higher initial investments within 5-10 years. Green buildings also command rental premiums and increased asset values. At a macro level, green building has been found to provide jobs and stimulate local green economies.
Tenant Demand & Marketing Edge – As the population gains more awareness of sustainability issues and their health impacts, there is rising tenant demand for green indoor environments and office policies. Green certified spaces can command competitive advantages in tenant/user retention and attraction amid growing corporate commitments to sustainability goals. Marketing the certification helps owners appeal to climate-conscious clients and tech-savvy Millennial talent.
In summary – green building certification has evolved into a mainstream and impactful way to enhance sustainability performance across new construction as well as existing building renovations. The holistic benefits outlined here help optimize life cycle costs, operations, demand and value for investors and owners, along with delivering public interest co-benefits like reduced environmental impacts and improved community wellness. As we transition to a low-carbon future, the standard set by third-party rated certifications has never been more important in future-proofing the built environment.