Green certified office space

Green certified office space no rarity in Canada

Monday, May 14, 2018

Green certified office space now predominates in the Vancouver and Toronto markets. A new study from CBRE and the Netherlands’ Maastricht University concludes that, on a square footage basis, more than 50 per cent of the commercial inventory in the two cities now boasts LEED or BOMA BEST status. This is a higher proportion of green certification than in the eight other European and Australian cities surveyed.

The recently released International Green Building Adoption Index is a companion to the U.S. Green Building Adoption Index, which tracks LEED and ENERGY STAR office buildings in that country’s 30 largest markets. As of the end of 2016, it found 38 per cent of office space was certified in surveyed U.S. cities, with LEED certification applying to roughly 18 per cent of stock and ENERGY STAR at 10 per cent.

Accounting for the greater variety of programs worldwide, the new index tallies the number of buildings and the total square footage enrolled in seven programs, including BREEAM, DGNB, Green Star, HQE and NABERS along with LEED and BOMA BEST. “Although no green building certification program is the same, they all share basic characteristics, such as measuring energy performance, assessing a multitude of other dimensions of sustainability and providing external certification through typically independent providers,” the Index report states.

Researchers found more than 227 million square feet of certified space in the 10 markets — Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney, Melbourne, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Stockholm and Warsaw — which collectively encompass about 1.2 billion square feet of commercial office space. This represents a significant increase from 2007, when about 6.4 per cent of the space in those markets was certified.

Every city surveyed has stock certified through at least two different programs, while in Toronto and Vancouver, many buildings carry two different designations. LEED is a presence in all but the Australian markets, translating into nearly 107 million square feet of office space. That includes nearly 54 million square feet in Toronto and about 12 million square feet in Vancouver.

The extensive enrolment in BOMA BEST in Vancouver and Toronto propels it to the second most common certification on a square footage basis — at 81.3 million square feet — even though it is only available in the Canadian markets. In the global context, about 2,300 office buildings carry BOMA BEST certification versus more than 38,000 LEED and nearly 16,000 BREEAM certified buildings.

Similarly, NABERS (21.5 million square feet) and Green Star (23 million square feet) are unique to Australia. BREEAM is seen in five European markets, accounting for 40 million square feet of certified space.

Vancouver tops the list for its percentage of green certified office space — at 51.6 per cent. It also offers up the smallest office market, pegged at approximately 47 million square feet, among surveyed cities. Toronto’s 51 per cent share of certified space translates into considerably greater square footage. Its market, at approximately 160 million square feet, is the third largest, after Paris and London, among the surveyed cities.

The prevalence of certified space in both cities reflects the weight of major owners/investors who have signed on to the programs, with larger and newer buildings more likely to carry one or both of the certifications. Notably, only 6.5 per cent of surveyed office buildings in Toronto are LEED certified, but they represent one third of commercial office space. While BOMA BEST is found in a greater number of buildings — 17.8 per cent — its margin over LEED is only about 6.5 million square feet.

Sydney and Melbourne place third and fourth for the highest percentage of green certified office space — at 46.5 and 28.8 per cent respectively. Warsaw, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Paris and London follow in descending order. However, translated into square footage, both Paris and Sydney have a greater area of green certified space than Vancouver.

The European cities show a steeper climb in new certifications, suggesting that they may simply be later starters that are poised to catch up with Canada and Australia. The percentage of certified green office space in Amsterdam surged from 0.2 per cent to 11 per cent of the market in the five years between 2011 and 2016. BREEAM certification in Warsaw grew from 1.2 to 12 per cent of market share during the same period.

The pace of adoption is tracked over a longer period in Canada, but is also impressive. In Toronto, about 15 per cent of commercial office space was LEED or BOMA BEST certified at the end of 2006. Less than 7 per cent of Vancouver’s office space was green certified at the end of 2005.

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