Green leases (also known as aligned leases, high performance leases, or energy efficient leases) align the financial and energy incentives of building owners and tenants so they can work together to save money, conserve resources, and ensure the efficient operation of buildings. Energy and environmental performance are emerging as key benchmarks in how commercial real estate buildings are judged and priced in today's market. According to a recent survey, 88% of corporate and developer respondents expect to own, manage or lease some green properties five years from now. Learn about the importance and value of environmental sound practices in property management, and about trends, certification programs, and other resources for the green property manager.


We've already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.

Green Designation

Looking for more formal training in green property management? NAR's Green designation has a property management track. The Green designation provides real estate professionals with the knowledge and awareness of green building principles applied in residences, commercial properties, developments, and communities so that they can list, market, and manage green properties as well as guide buyer-clients in purchasing green homes and buildings.

For more information, visit the Green Resource Council webpage

Why Go Green?

Green Tenant Amenities (Buildings, Oct. 1, 2019) E – Implemented correctly, your amenities will refresh your building and highlight your commitment to your tenants and the environment.

The Case for Investing in Sustainable Buildings (Green Money, Jul./Aug. 2019) – Making sustainable upgrades to properties old or new can be beneficial in terms of cash flow. Efficiency improvements can reduce operational costs through lower utility bills and maintenance costs; lower exposure to energy price risk; or lower insurance and debt cost. A property with a green building certification can result in higher occupancy rates or increased tenant satisfaction, which translates into longer leases, higher demand or a rent premium.

Frameworks for Simplifying Sustainability (Journal of Property Management, May 1, 2019) E – Property managers can simplify sustainability for their teams if they begin with the view that each building is a set of opportunities in performance improvements and cost-effective retrofits, waiting to be discovered. At some point, sustainability is about the efficiency of each light bulb, the optimization of each set point, the diversion of each empty Coke can from the landfill.

When Office Buildings Go Beyond Green (The New York Times, Apr. 23, 2019) – Like other certification programs, WiredScore gives landlords one more “piece of the puzzle” in their quest for differentiation and a competitive marketing edge, said Mark Zettl, president of property management for the commercial property brokerage firm JLL.

Sustainability Increases Value in Commercial Real Estate (75F, Mar. 19, 2019) – Although we hear the word sustainability a lot these days, for many business owners, sustainability is still just a buzzword. As a building owner or manager, maybe you'd like to make improvements toward sustainability, but green building features are still on the "nice to have" list, maybe shuffled behind mechanical and cosmetic upgrades. But investors don't see it that way anymore – and the numbers show it.

Green Leases

Green Leases & Sustainable Capital Investment in Buildings: The Split Incentive Dilemma (Verde Exchange, Sep. 4, 2019) – One of the major drivers of green leases is GSA (General Services Administration). They have the highest green leasing requirements I have seen. For example, they don’t want to leave space in the building that’s not EnergyStar. They will give you a certain amount of time to get there, and if you don’t, you are paying a penalty.

IMT and DOE Unveil 2019 Green Lease Leaders at BOMA International Conference & Expo (Institute for Market Transformation, Jun. 25, 2019) – The cumulative floor area of all Green Lease Leaders is now more than 2 billion sq. ft. of building space—a clear indication that green leasing is continuing to grow as a best practice across markets and building types.

Green Leasing, PACE Financing Transform 1960s Commercial Building in Cleveland (The Energy Mix, May 12, 2019) – To make the Shaker West project a reality, the local chamber of commerce in Cleveland teamed up with the Washington, DC-based Institute for Market Transformation (IMT), which had developed a model to address the split incentive through green leasing. A utility energy audit identified promising efficiency projects after Man Holdings acquired the 1960s-era building in 2018, and the new owner coordinated the work with other renovations it was planning to update the look and feel of the building.

How Green Leases Help Achieve Green Buildings (FacilitiesNet, Mar. 4, 2019) – To remain competitive and resilient, leases need to be structured in a way that enables a building to be highly efficient, incorporate health and wellness, and have a lower carbon footprint.

Energy Efficiency

It Takes a “Surgeon” to Cut a Building’s Emissions (Scientific American, Dec. 4, 2019) – As cities across the country ramp up efforts to combat climate change, it has become challenging for building owners with relatively limited insight into building operations to reduce building emissions. In this environment, it is imperative for building owners to partner with technology providers to better evaluate building performance, identify energy reduction opportunities and reduce operating expenses in the most holistic manner.

Target Installs 500th Solar Rooftop (Progressive Grocer, Nov. 18, 2019) – So far, the rooftop installations have added more than 240 megawatts of solar across the buildings, equivalent to powering nearly 46,000 U.S. homes. Target says that each project generates enough energy to offset 15% to 40% of a property's energy needs.

No Matter the Property Type, It Pays to Invest in Energy Efficiency (Commercial Property Executive, Jul. 23, 2019) – The benefits of energy efficiency retrofits in the multifamily sector are well documented. In addition to operational cost savings, owners can expect to realize lower vacancy rates and higher property values, while residents benefit from lower utility bills, a healthier indoor environment, and increased comfort.

Achieve Net Zero Energy Use in Existing Buildings (Colorado Real Estate Journal, Jul. 5, 2019) – It also may be worth exploring retro-commissioning as an option for your building. Utility companies are supporting retro-commissioning services for existing structures, as the process can create substantial savings (varying between 5% and 35%) for a relatively low cost.

New York Takes Aim at Skyscrapers' Sky-High Energy Usage (Phys.org, Jun. 3, 2019) – Experts point out, however, that reducing emissions is easier for an older tower like the Empire State Building than it will be for the glass-clad skyscrapers that seemed to sprout everywhere starting in the 1970s.

Other Ways to Green Your Management

NYC's One World Trade Center Leads the Way in Green Architecture (Thomas.net, Nov. 20, 2019) – The building collects 100% of its stormwater runoff on-site where it is stored in high-efficiency evaporative cooling towers, which maximizes water efficiency overall. The water is claimed and re-used for building cooling purposes as well as fire protection, supplemental cooling, and irrigation for the complex's extensive landscaping needs.

Parking Garages Transform Urban Environments with Living Green Walls (GreenRoofs.com, Oct. 9, 2019) – Living green walls can completely transform the façade of otherwise bare parking structures, turning them into a central design element in developments rather than something to be hidden away.

What’s more, living green walls can have significant environmental benefits, including helping to make cities quieter by introducing more shade, evaporative cooling, and sound absorption.

The Green Revolution Spreading Across Our Rooftops (The New York Times, Oct. 9, 2019) – The vegetation on a living roof cools the surrounding air through evapotranspiration, the process in which moisture in plant leaves evaporates into the air, essentially working like an outdoor air-conditioning system. In addition, the increased insulation and decreased need for air-conditioning means less overheated air is put back into the surrounding environment.

LED Lighting: an Amenity with Immediate Payback for Office Owners (RE Business Online, Jul. 25, 2019) – “This is one of those rare cases in American businesses where simply retrofitting the lighting system — converting from the traditional fluorescent tubes to LED tube or light-emitting diodes — can be a win-win-win-win-win,” says Catherine Winder, property manager at Accesso. “Tenants, employees, Accesso, the surrounding neighborhood and the environment all benefit and the results can be measured and quantified.”

Websites, Journals & Certification Programs

Journal of Green Building — A research journal, focused on green building, in which half of the articles are peer-reviewed

Journal of Sustainable Real Estate — This independent journal intends to foster truth surrounding the myriad questions of how to become more efficient, healthier, and more productive while recognizing that economics and regulation will drive the sustainable real estate market

US Green Building Council — Committed to a prosperous and sustainable future for our nation through cost-efficient and energy-saving green buildings

Energy Star for Buildings and Plants — Created in 1992 by the EPA, the Energy Star program has since gone international and is one of the leading marks for energy efficiency in the world for consumer goods, homes and buildings

Sustainability — BOMA International's green resource page

Green REsource Council — The website for NAR's Green designation

LEED Rating Systems — The leading commercial building certification standard in the United States, sponsored by the US Green Building Council

Green Lease Library – Created by the Institute for Market Transformation, this is a centralized site for commercial green leasing resources.

eBooks & Other Resources


The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:

The Green Building Bottom Line (Kindle, eBook)

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Greening Your Business (eBook)

Conservation for Cities (Kindle, eBook)

Green Buildings A to Z (Kindle, eBook)

Green Business Practices for Dummies® (eBook)

Land Use Law for Sustainable Development (eBook)

Reinventing Green Building (Kindle, eBook)

Smart Green: How to Implement Sustainable Business Practices in Any Industry—And Make Money (Kindle, eBook)

Sustainable Energy Systems in Architectural Design (Kindle, eBook)

Sustainable Facilities (Kindle, eBook)

Sustainable Property Development (Kindle, eBook)

Books, Videos, Research Reports & More

The resources below are available for loan through Member Support. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call Member Support at 800-874-6500 for assistance.

Routledge handbook of sustainable real estate (Oxford: Routledge, 2018)

A Practical Guide to Green Real Estate Management (Chicago: IREM, 2009) NA 2542 K6

Lease Guide: Guide to Writing a Commercial Real Estate Lease including Green Lease Language (Chicago: BOMA International, 2008) HD 1384 T23

Green Retail: Selected Readings, Oct. 2007 (Washington DC: Urban Land Institute, 2007) NA6230 Ur1g

Green Buildings: Selected References, September 2006 (Washington DC: Urban Land Institute, 2006) NAC 250 Ur1gb

Green Buildings Pay (New York: Spon Press, 2003) NA 2542 G72

Routledge Handbook of Sustainable Real Estate (Abingdon: Routledge, 2018) HD 1390.R684 2018

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