Panel Paper: How Do Firms Certify Green?

Saturday, November 8, 2014 : 3:50 PM
Enchantment Ballroom C (Hyatt)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Douglas Noonan1, Mallory Flowers2 and Daniel Matisoff2, (1)Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, (2)Georgia Institute of Technology
Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification is a highly recognized green building certification program. LEED certification is based on credits achieved in five primary categories for the sustainability of a building: sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, materials and resource credits, and indoor environmental quality with additional points for innovation and design.  Current research, which focuses solely on certification levels, or the total points achieved in LEED building projects (e.g. Crawely and Aho, 1999; Eichholtz, Kok and Quigley, 2010; Fuerst, and McAllister, 2011; Kahn, and Vaughn, 2009; and Kok, McGRaw and Quigley, 2011) does not distinguish between credits earned that internally improve building’s performance, versus those that create external benefits.

Firms can focus on credits that have highly different characteristics. That is, two LEED silver buildings may receive certification using very different strategies. We focus on one dichotomy in green building strategy. We seek to determine the extent to which firms engage in green building practices which result in benefits internal versus external to the building owner or occupant.  Improved environmental performance reduces operating costs while improving occupant productivity (Srinivas, 2009), and more efficiently consumes energy (Kahn, Kok and Quigley, 2013; Ries, Bilec, Gokhan and Needy, 2006). Regardless of the source of LEED credits, certification results in premium rents and higher occupancy rates in commercial buildings (Fuerst and McAllister, 2011; Eichholtz, Kok and Quigley, 2013), which may encourage building owners to leverage externally beneficial credits for marketing gains (Fischer and Lyon, 2014). We are also interested in how certification strategy along this dichotomy correlates across building ownership, use, and other project level characteristics.

We will be the first to make use of proprietary, credit-level (as opposed to point totals or certification levels) building data from the US Green Building Council to understand the extent to which an owner will take advantage of “internal” versus “external” improvements. Paired with geospatial data and project level metadata, we can understand patterns in the way that these strategies cluster spatially, by ownership type, and within certain market subsectors.