TORONTO-”Something has changed in people’s minds in the past year when it comes to understanding the green movement,” claimed general session speaker Rick Fedrizzi, founding chairman of the US Green Building Council at CBRE’s World Conference in Toronto this morning. He was referring to market, which has shifted dramatically towards the green movement in recent years and in this year alone.

As of now, there are more than 11,300 member organizations at the USGBC, 2,500 of which signed on in February of this year, he noted. “The green movement is growing and gaining momentum…it is where the market is headed.”

Fedrizzi, who was appointed president & CEO of USGBC in April 2004, explained that despite rumors of increased cost in building green buildings, it does not cost more to build green. “You can build a certified silver building for not a penny more than conventional construction,” he said, adding that gold LEED certified only costs 2% more and roughly 6.8% more for platinum.

“Although climate change is a large motivator in going green with recent events such as Hurricane Katrina, for example, raising people’s awareness, it is not the only motivator,” he noted. “Benefits include more productive employees due to better health, increased sales per sf roughly 2 to 15% for the average building, insurance incentives, operative cost reduction, marketing and brand appreciation among many others.”

Fedrizzi pointed to an example of another benefit, where a big box retailer was able to gain permits to open a store in Austin in only three months instead of the average 15 months due to building that location as a green building. “That 12-month gain raised their profits considerably, which they said was the equivalent of getting a free store.”

Once considered a new idea, the green movement has extremely escalated this year and is not going away, he said. The building sector accounts for the largest amount of Co2 emissions in the earth’s atmosphere. “Regardless of the building, there is an opportunity for green,” he explained. “You don’t have to be a climatologist to understand how not adapting green affects us in a very bad way.”

CBRE’s World Conference runs through Sept. 7 in Toronto. The conference brings together more than 3,000 CBRE professionals and clients from more than 25 countries around the world to discuss a wide range of subjects and issues germane to commercial real estate.

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