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Jason Young often contributes to GlobeSt.com.

CHICAGO-More than two-thirds of the nation’s building owners, managers and investors have allocated funds to green initiatives, with most planning increases in such investments in 2008, according to results released yesterday of a survey conducted by Real Estate Media, the Building Owners and Managers Association International and the US Green Building Council. The results were presented during the annual GreenBuild Conference & Expo at McCormick Place, here.

“Nineteen percent of the nation’s carbon emissions are directly attributable to commercial buildings,” stated John Salustri, executive editor of the online division of Real Estate Media, as he opened the press conference. “How the nation’s building owners, managers and investors view their responsibility in this issue is critical. This survey helps provide some insight into that question.”

“Corporate America is interested in going green and reaching into their portfolio of existing buildings to achieve those strategies,” said Doug Gatlin, national accounts director of the USGBC, noting that the number of LEED certification applications for existing buildings increased from less than 100 last year to nearly 700 this year.

About 60% of those polled reported a positive return on their green investment. Karen Penafiel, vice president of advocacy for BOMA International, emphasized that these real estate executives are realizing “very tangible benefits” from going green, including energy savings of up to 45% and water savings of up to 30%.

In addition, green buildings do not typically require any more maintenance costs than comparable non-green assets, according to 56% of those polled, while for those who do spend more, the increase is in most cases less than 5%. The survey further revealed that green buildings have occupancy rates between 75% and 100% for a majority of those polled.

Executives divided evenly on whether municipalities should require energy-efficient buildings, although many who answered “yes” qualified that such mandates should be offset by local incentives or should apply only to new construction, Penafiel and Gatlin pointed out.

Looking to the year ahead, 83% of respondents said they will allocate the same amount or more to green measures and programs in 2008. “Everybody seemed to indicate green buildings are a trend that’s here to stay,” Penafiel added, echoing what she said was one of the most repeated remarks provided for the survey.

Nearly 400 investors, owners and managers responded to the inaugural Green Survey, which focused exclusively on the real estate industry’s existing building stock. Future joint surveys will focus on additional aspects of the green movement, noted Salustri. Full Green Survey results are available online at www.globest.com/green/. A full analysis of the survey results and commentary by respondents will appear in the November issue of Real Estate Forum.

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