- New York City checks the highest number of green buildings with coworking spaces — 30 — almost double that of runner-up, Washington, D.C.
- San Francisco and Boston have the largest share of LEED certified coworking spaces out of their total coworking inventories.
- At the state level, California and Texas overtake New York with more buildings with LEED certifications that include coworking spaces — 43 and 32, respectively.
- Nationwide, Regus is the top coworking operator to log the most spaces in LEED certified buildings, followed at a significant distance by WeWork.
In the U.S., 35% of the total electricity consumed is attributed to commercial real estate buildings, as well as 16% of all the carbon dioxide emissions. Meanwhile, rising concerns around sustainability have driven large shares of commercial buildings to change and adapt their architecture, design, and amenities to decrease their carbon footprint and pave the way toward a healthier environment. With this in mind, we wanted to take a closer look at the green buildings in commercial real estate (typically referred to as LEED certified buildings) and, more specifically, those that include coworking.
The LEED certification is the most widely used and recognized rating system for green buildings, and helps acknowledge and promote a more environmentally conscious approach to real estate. Through our analysis, we determined the states and cities across the U.S. that check the most LEED certified buildings to also include coworking spaces. These recognitions attest to their efforts to increase water, energy and waste efficiency, as well as to contribute to an overall healthier environment.
Coworking in LEED Certified Buildings Most Common in Coastal States, with California & Texas at the Forefront
At the state level, California outperforms Texas and New York in terms of the number of LEED certified buildings that have coworking spaces. 43 green buildings in California boast coworking spaces, compared to 32 in Texas and 31 in New York. Furthermore, California also checks five Platinum certified buildings with coworking, which is the most in any state in the country.
New York City Leads in Race Toward Sustainability with 30 Green Buildings with Coworking Spaces & Two-Thirds Gold Certified
1. New York City, NY: 30 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
The ultimate leader in our ranking, New York City boasts 30 LEED certified buildings which include coworking spaces, almost double that of runner-up Washington, D.C. Last year, New York came in third place on a national level in terms of all LEED certified commercial buildings, a great improvement considering that it didn’t even make the top 10 at all in 2021.
However, when it comes to coworking spaces as part of such green buildings, New York City is unmatched. Although the city’s density and plethora of imposing skyscrapers can make it hard to achieve high levels of sustainability, 20 of the 30 LEED buildings with coworking spaces reached the Gold level, attesting to the quality of design and amenities in these buildings that are meant to support green efforts to preserve water and energy. That said, given that New York checks almost 360 buildings with coworking spaces, the percentage of LEED certified ones is rather low — only 8%, as compared to 22% in San Francisco and Boston.
2. Washington, D.C.: 16 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
Workers in the nation’s capital can take their own steps toward a more sustainable future by choosing one of the 16 available buildings that are LEED certified and include coworking spaces. Here, five of those buildings reached the Silver level and another 11 have Gold status, meaning they have taken additional measures to adopt eco-friendly practices and enhance the well-being of workers.
Because Washington, D.C. is one of the most prominent markets in terms of flexible work practices and, implicitly, coworking spaces, this comes as great news for the most environmentally conscious of workers. The 16 LEED certified buildings with coworking spaces account for 21% of the total coworking construction in the nation's capital, which goes to show the strong-hold that the flex working model has on this region.
3. San Francisco, CA: 15 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
Coming in third place in terms of LEED certified buildings with coworking spaces is San Francisco, with 15 such buildings, including 12 that reached Gold status. Even more impressive is that the city has two Platinum level certified constructions that include coworking, which is more than any other city in our ranking. In both of these buildings, WeWork is the operator to check coworking spaces, at 650 California St. and in the Salesforce Tower.
Plus, 22% of the total coworking buildings in San Francisco received LEED certifications — the highest percentage of all of the cities in the top 10 and equaled only by Boston. Known to be one of the country’s first cities to pioneer the environmentally-conscious approach, San Francisco has adopted sustainable practices sooner and more steadily than other U.S. cities, whether that is through recycling, the reinforcement of green buildings, water and energy reduction or the sustainable food options.
4. Atlanta, GA: 13 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
According to the annual U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), the city of Atlanta recently ranked sixth on the list of 10 U.S. cities with the highest total number of green buildings. Likewise, in terms of coworking, Atlanta checks spaces in 13 LEED certified buildings, a share of 13% of the total 101 certified commercial structures that include coworking. The Silver and Gold ranking was reached by 5 and 7 buildings, respectively, while the remaining one checks the Certified status, according to the LEED categories. These buildings contribute to Georgia’s sixth place in the state ranking and attest to the state’s commitment to embracing green and sustainable practices in commercial real estate.
5. Houston, TX: 12 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
In 2020, Houston registered one of the highest per-capita emissions of greenhouse gases in the U.S., raising alarm signals for environmentalists and city officials. Fortunately, since then, the city implemented a solid climate action plan, which includes commercial real estate buildings.
Currently, Houston seems to be on a greener path: 12 LEED certified buildings in the city include coworking, with nine of them certified at the Gold level. Even so, efforts regarding sustainability and eco-friendliness in real estate have yet to reach their ultimate goal. Of the total number of coworking buildings in the city, only 9% were LEED certified, which was the third-lowest percentage in our top 10 ranking.
6. Boston, MA: 11 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
Sustainability has been a top priority in Boston for more than a decade, with regenerative practices gaining traction in the area, on top of regular green measures. As such, the city is focused not only on decreasing the negative effect on climate, but also on finding ways to generate new types of energy through the development of real estate with regenerative design.
Although there are only 11 LEED certified buildings with coworking spaces across the city, that makes for a share of 22% (one of the largest on our list) of the total buildings that include coworking businesses. Moreover, seven of those 11 LEED certified buildings reached Gold status. And, Boston is also one of the five cities in our top 10 to have a Platinum level LEED building that includes coworking.
7. Denver, CO: 11 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
Denver’s Green Ordinance Energy Program was one of the actions taken here in terms of sustainability and eco-friendliness. Here again, real estate is included and shows that city officials are on the path to creating a greener future.
Our analysis shows that, similar to Boston, Denver also checks 11 LEED certified buildings that include coworking spaces out of the total 66 coworking properties in the city. And, while one of those buildings is at the Certified level, four others reached Silver status and six received the Gold LEED certification, attesting to their quality and commitment to providing healthy and sustainable commercial real estate options.
8. Chicago, IL: 10 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
While not specifically known as a green city, Chicago is taking a responsible approach toward sustainability. For instance, it has in place a Sustainable Action Agenda, on top of sustainable transit options, green rooftops and energy-efficient buildings.
In terms of coworking spaces, those that are part of the 10 LEED certified buildings here make for a relatively low share compared to the total number of coworking buildings across the city (118). However, Chicago still makes the list of the top cities with the most buildings that are LEED certified that also happen to include coworking spaces. And, it even checks one that reached the Platinum level — River Point, where Servcorp has a coworking space. Of the remaining nine, six have the Gold status.
9. Miami, FL: 8 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
In Miami, 11% of the total buildings that have coworking spaces are LEED certified. Specifically, the city’s eight LEED buildings that include coworking are catering to the rising needs surrounding sustainability and eco-friendly practices.
An important topic for both residents and officials, green buildings are promoted by Miami-Dade County’s Sustainable Buildings Program, which calls for “the integration of materials and methods promoting environmental quality, economic vitality, and social benefit through best practices in the design, construction and operation of the county’s built environment.” Accordingly, the eight LEED certified buildings with coworking in Miami make up nearly half of the state’s total number (17), which helped place Florida fourth in our state ranking.
10. Los Angeles, CA: 8 LEED Certified Buildings with Coworking
Rounding out the top 10 cities with the most LEED certified buildings to include coworking, Los Angeles has its own sustainability program: the Los Angeles Green Building Code (LAGBC) is meant to align the city with California’s standards and promote public health, reduce the carbon footprint and decrease water and energy waste.
Here, the eight LEED certified buildings that have coworking spaces also contribute to the city’s efforts to bring more green into real estate by providing clean flex workspaces to environmentally conscious workers. What’s more, Los Angeles is also one of the five cities in our top 10 to have coworking in one LEED building that reached Platinum level certification, while six others earned the Gold standard.
Regus Has Most Coworking Spaces in LEED Certified Buildings, but WeWork Checks Highest Number of Platinum Certifications
Nationally, the top coworking operators that check the most spaces in LEED certified buildings are Regus, WeWork, Industrious and Spaces. This might come as no surprise, as the four operators are some of the largest and most prominent in the nation and check hundreds of coworking spaces in the U.S.'s top markets.
Regus leads from a far, with 65 such offices, as compared to 38 attributed to the runner-up, WeWork. However, WeWork has double the Platinum certified coworking spaces — four. Even more noteworthy is that Industrious registers a fifth (21%) of its total available inventory in LEED certified buildings, which is the largest share among the top coworking operators and three times higher than the one logged by Regus.
Green is the New Black for Youngest Members of the Workforce: LEED Certification a Selling Point for Gen Z Workers
Whether we’re talking about the traditional office model or coworking spaces, sustainable and eco-friendly office buildings not only pave the way for a greener future, but can also be a top selling point for the youngest generation to recently enter the workforce: Gen Z — which currently accounts for 21% of the U.S. population — is known for being more concerned about climate change and more inclined toward sustainability than previous cohorts. In fact, studies have shown that 64% of 18- to 22-year-olds deem it important for their employer to act in a sustainable manner. What’s more, they’re also more likely to work longer for an employer if the employer acts responsibly toward the environment. At the same time, more than half of members of Gen Z are willing to pay up to 10% more for a sustainable product.
Given these numbers, it’s easy to see why businesses and landlords that are taking conscious measures to provide green offices and flex workspaces are more likely to appeal to the younger generation. And, in doing so, they not only leave a positive imprint on the environment, but also accelerate their businesses and positively influence their bottom line, as well.
- For the purposes of this study, we extracted LEED certification data from https://www.usgbc.org/leed and the numbers regarding coworking spaces from our sister divisions, Yardi Matrix and Commercial Edge, in March 2023.
- We focused our analysis on certified buildings, with a minimum of 40 points in the LEED certification rating system.
- We only considered the U.S. cities that check at least 3 certified buildings.
- To determine the top operators, we looked at the ones that have at least 10 coworking spaces in LEED certified buildings.
- Only office spaces were included in the study, excluding retail/industrial spaces.
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