Chicago is apparently not in the LEED for green office construction

An insightful frog by the name of Kermit once said, “It’s not easy being green.”  Apparently that holds true in Chicago.

Green building, LEED and sustainability are at the tip of everyone’s tongue these days – at least in the world of commercial real estate.  I even hopped on-board when I posted about commercial brokers getting on the sustainability bandwagon not too long ago.  In a recent post on green office buildings in Chicago, the Dirt Lawyer drew my attention to this article at GreenSource devoted to Chicago green construction.  Sadly, the article, though very well-written, points out how far our fair city – and the nation as a whole – are from achieving a turning point in LEED-certified commercial buildings.  Chicago apparently only has 27 LEED-certified buildings.  Surprisingly, this places it at number 3 in the ranking of American cities.  Despite what seems like everyone talking about green construction and sustainable practices, I’m shocked that such a small number of buildings are LEED-certified in Chicago.

Now don’t get my wrong.  I’m the practical sort.  If my clients put sustainability high on their list, I’ll assist them in finding the right space.  With new LEED-certified buildings like 300 N LaSalle St coming on the market in the next couple of years, there will be some high-end options for those clients who value protecting the environment.  I also suspect that there are a lot of buildings that have everything necessary to qualify under LEED, but do not find the fees associated with the program to be worth the cost.  Most real estate professionals could not list all of the point-earning features for each level of LEED, but could readily grasp that energy-efficient HVAC systems and low-energy lighting ballasts are a good thing, both for the environment and for their operating pass-throughs as tenants.

I’m very curious to revisit the subject in the future, to see where new and existing buildings have taken the steps to “go green”.  I’d love to see a database like CoStar or Emporis, but dedicated to tracking sustainable construction and facility management practices, whether or not the buildings are officially “LEED-certified”.  That would help those of us who are trying to do the right thing for the earth and our clients.


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