For anyone thinking about building their own home, making it “green” is a prime consideration. The same is true of commercial property and EY has been helping clients in the United States to realize the many associated benefits of a sustainable approach through its Green Building Practice, part of the Climate Change and Sustainability Services team.
The incentives of having a green certification for your building are clear. As well as knowing that you are doing your bit for planet earth, many governments offer tax breaks and credits to those looking to reduce their environmental footprint.
“Sustainability is an increasingly important factor for investors and regulators, as well as building occupants, so the real estate industry has started to look at it a lot more closely. Many property companies and fund managers are now integrating sustainability into their overall business strategy,” explains Ramon Reynoso, an Executive Director, Ernst & Young LLP (EY US), Climate Change and Sustainability Services team, part of the Indirect Tax team.
The Green Building Practice helps EY’s clients understand the action that they need to take in order to certify their property under the two main rating systems in the US for green buildings standards: Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), and Green Globes, a system that was derived from BREEAM, a European green buildings scheme. As part of its work, the team used these ratings systems to develop its own energy benchmarking methodology to apply to complex properties and therefore simplify the process for clients.
“LEED-certified buildings are resource efficient, using less energy and less water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” continues Ramon. “And, of course, they save money.”
Since 2011, the team has certified over 150 million square feet of green residential, commercial and industrial space and captured over US$200 million in property tax and income tax incentives for its clients.
And in 2016 alone, the Green Building Practice certified more than 51.5 million square feet of commercial and multi-residential space for its clients. This equates to 10% of all US green building space certified in that time. In fact, if EY were a US state, we’d rank second behind only California for most square footage certified.
“We estimate that certifying this amount of property in 2016 represents a reduction in CO2 emissions of around 300,000 metric tons,” says Ramon, “which can only be a good thing for both business and the environment.”