Report ranks Denver 7th for green buildings — ahead of Seattle and Portland, Oregon

41.9 percent of overall office square footage in the Denver market is certified green, according to a new report from CBRE and Maastricht University.

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The new Colorado Health Foundation building at 18th and Pennsylvania. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)  vacant lots; development; construction; denver; colorado; kevinjbeaty;

The new Colorado Health Foundation building at 18th and Pennsylvania. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

More than one out every eight office buildings in the Denver metro is certified green, according to a new report from CBRE and Maastricht University.

That number’s high enough, according to the 2017 National Green Building Adoption Index, to rank Denver as the seventh greenest out of the top 30 office markets in the U.S.

The Mile High City and surrounding area ranked just ahead of Washington, D.C., Seattle and Manhattan in New York. Overall, Denver grew modestly greener with 13.3 percent of offices certified in 2017 — up 1.5 percentage points from last year, according to the report.

For the report, CBRE and Maastricht University, based in The Netherlands, considered “green” office buildings as those that hold either an EPA Energy Star Label,  USGBC LEED certification or both. Government and medical buildings were excluded as were those that are occupied and owned by a single tenant.

Chicago claimed the top spot in 2017, while San Francisco slipped to second and Atlanta, Houston and Minneapolis again rounded out the top five markets.

Nationwide, the study found owners of office buildings continued to pursue green building certifications in the 30 largest U.S. markets with 10.3 percent of all buildings surveyed having an Energy Star label and 4.7 percent being LEED certified. Both were slightly ahead of last year’s totals, although the total percentage of certified space fell slightly due to the expiration of some certifications.

“Even though the current federal legislative agenda has shifted the focus away from energy efficiency and sustainability, the momentum in the commercial real estate industry toward improving building operating performance and enhancing building quality is hard to derail,” said Nils Kok, associate professor at Maastricht University, in a statement.

Denver is working to make its commercial and multi-family buildings more energy efficient. Last year, the city became one of nine studied with a benchmarking ordinance, requiring property owners to annually report how much energy they’re using. The first reports are due by September.

Cities with benchmarking ordinances have 9 percent more Energy Star and LEED-certified buildings, according to the report.

“While it is still too early to make a definitive correlation between benchmarking ordinances and the rate of growth in ‘green’ buildings, this year’s findings do begin to establish a link that will be studied closely in the future,” said David Pogue, CBRE’s global director of corporate responsibility, in a statement.

Business & data reporter Adrian D. Garcia can be reached via email at or

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