Structuretone Green Building Survey Shows Wellness is Growing

STO Sustainability Survey 2017 summary infographic

New York – A recent survey conducted by construction management firm Structure Tone finds that green building is still a major market differentiator, and employee wellness is increasingly important to tenants. However, for the second year in a row, cost remains a major barrier.

Now in its second year, the anonymous survey was sent to a select group of senior corporate real estate and facilities management professionals to take a snapshot of sustainability in practice across the commercial real estate community. Questions centered on participants’ opinions on third-party certification systems like LEED, challenges to building green, and the newer pressures of wellness and climate change in the built environment.

In comparison to last year’s results, the 2017 responses, collected informally and not as a scientific sampling, indicate that while some things have changed, others have not:

  • Sustainability is here to stay. This year zero respondents (0%) consider green building a fad. However, cost was overwhelmingly still seen as the No. 1 barrier to adopting truly sustainable building practices.
  • Wellness has arrived. Over 80% of respondents consider employee wellness essential to their retention and recruitment. More than 50% reported they plan to seek external expertise to incorporate wellness into their buildings.
  • LEED is still king. Sixty-two percent of respondents agreed that LEED is a valuable market differentiator, up 9% from last year. The expectation of LEED certification from employees and management for the surveyed firms also went up by nearly 20% from last year.
  • The industry’s concerns over the effects of climate change and resiliency seem to be waning. This year,17% fewer respondents reported seeking resilience expertise for their projects.

“This year’s survey results show us that while the real estate industry’s general position on sustainability has remained largely the same as last year, attitudes are starting to shift when it comes to certain aspects,” says Jennifer Taranto, Structure Tone’s director of sustainability. “Wellness is certainly coming to the forefront, and resilience, at least in the private sector, seems to have taken a back seat. Last year there was also a concern that when LEEDv4, a more stringent version of LEED, was implemented, many owners would simply stop pursuing certification. But our results show that’s simply not the case.”

Structure Tone’s sustainability team plans to continue conducting this survey on an annual basis. The hope is that as building practices and contextual circumstances change over time, the report will help detect and analyze the resulting trends and what impact they may have on the present and future state of sustainable building.