Green Buildings: Boost Business and Neighborhoods

By Dave Winzelberg  |  Aug 14, 2012

Seems the green building movement isn't just good for the planet, but for the pocketbook as well.

Developers and commercial building owners are increasingly using sustainable, environmentally friendly and energy efficient practices to lower costs, and the practice is spreading to include entire communities.

The U.S. Green Building Council just announced that the total footprint of commercial projects certified under its LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green building program surpassed 2 billion square feet. An additional 7 billion square feet is currently in the pipeline across the globe, the council reports.

Roof gardens, systems that recycle a building's heat and water, solar panels and drought-resistant landscaping have all been popular upgrades to older properties and built into new ones.

The trend has boosted business for a myriad of professions and industries. Architects and engineers who have embraced the green building movement are busy designing cutting-edge systems that save water, energy and money. Companies that manufacture or install solar collectors and other forms of sustainable energy have also benefitted from the tilt towards green.

The U.S. Green Building Council predicted that green building will support or create nearly 8 million jobs between 2009-2013 and contribute $554 billion to the U.S. gross domestic product.

Another by-product of the greening effort has been its attraction for tenants. Now there is a higher demand for healthier working space, and a recruiting edge for companies headquartered in green buildings. Improved indoor environmental quality in LEED-certified buildings has contributed to reductions in absenteeism and work hours affected by asthma, respiratory allergies, depression, and stress and to self-reported improvements in productivity, according to a study in the American Journal for Public Health.

The green development movement has expanded beyond individual buildings and has spread to include whole communities, with the U.S. Green Building Council's newest designation, LEED for Neighborhood Development.

The program, funded by a $500,000 grant from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, aims to reduce suburban sprawl, promote smart growth principles and sustainability, and offers assistance to developers of affordable housing that employ green practices.

DAVE WINZELBERG - David Winzelberg is an award-winning reporter who spent 20 years writing for the New York Times. He currently writes for Long Island Business News.

This article originally appeared on The Atlantic Online as part of the Investing In A Better Tomorrow program.

Content may be produced by outside parties not affiliated with Bank of America. Opinions or ideas expressed are not necessarily those of Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust or Bank of America Merrill Lynch, nor do they reflect their views or endorsement. These materials are for informational purposes only. Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, U.S. Trust and Bank of America Merrill Lynch do not assume liability for any loss or damage resulting from anyone's reliance on the information provided.


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