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April 22, 2024
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San Francisco Closing in on Minneapolis as the US City with the Highest Percentage of Green Office Space


San Francisco significantly closed the gap on Minneapolis in the rankings of U.S. cities with the highest percentage of green office space, boasting a 70 percent green office market, up from 67.2 percent in 2014, according to a just-released study from global real estate services firm CBRE. Minneapolis held onto the top spot in the rankings for the second consecutive year by less than a percent, with 70.4 percent of all office space currently qualified as green (defined as holding either an EPA ENERGY STAR label, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) full-building LEED certification or both), down from 77.0 percent in 2014, according to the 2015 Green Building Adoption Index, a joint project of CBRE Group Inc and Maastricht University.

Many technology tenants, who made up the majority of 2014 leasing activity in San Francisco, tend to seek creative, open-plan space and have embraced the green building trend. The adoption of green building certification is particularly strong in certain San Francisco submarkets, such as South of Market, where 84.6 percent of buildings hold an ENERGY STAR or LEED certification. The South and North Financial Districts follow at 54.1 percent and 47.8 percent, respectively. Overall, the adoption rates for these submarkets are all well above the market average of 19.4 percent.

San Francisco also claims the highest square footage with LEED certification, 40.0 percent, more than three times the national average. In fact, the city of San Francisco has some of the most stringent green building codes in the region with new buildings required to achieve at minimum LEED Gold certification.
Other Bay Area cities on the list include San Jose and Walnut Creek. Although the San Jose market dropped four positions to 22nd this year, it placed 14th nationally for its percentage of LEED buildings, which increased to 4.8 percent. By comparison, 18.3 percent of its buildings being LEED certified contributed to Walnut Creek moving up a place to the 11th position in overall percentage of certified buildings.

Chicago, at 63.4 percent, was third on the list, while Atlanta (57.8 percent) and Houston (52.9 percent) ranked as fourth and fifth, swapping their respective 2014 positions. The top 10 cities on the 2014 list all retained a place on the 2015 list.

The study also found that owners of small buildings have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by implementing energy-efficient practices, due to a significant gap between large and small office buildings in achieving sustainability certification. 62.1 percent of office buildings in the U.S. greater than 500k sf are considered green. In contrast, only 4.5 percent of all U.S. office buildings less than 100k sf qualified as green.

“Our 2015 study confirmed that green building adoption has been primarily a big building, first-tier city phenomenon,” said David Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility. “It would appear that many smaller buildings in the majority of large markets still have an opportunity to be ‘best in class’ among their peer set by achieving these certifications.”

Executed in close collaboration with the USGBC and CBRE Research, this is the second release of the annual Green Building Adoption Index. Based on a rigorous methodology, the Index shows the growth of ENERGY STAR- and LEED-certified space for the 30 largest U.S. office markets, both in aggregate and in individual markets, over the previous 10 years.

2015 Green Building Adoption Index
Top 10 Green Office Markets

Market 2015 Rank 2015 % 2014 Rank

Minneapolis 1 70.4 1
San Francisco 2 70.0 2
Chicago 3 63.4 3
Atlanta 4 57.8 5
Houston 5 52.9 4
Denver 6 48.7 7
Los Angeles 7 47.1 6
Washington, D.C. 8 42.3 10
Miami 9 41.6 9
Seattle 10 40.1 8

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