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Renters don't want to pay more for LEED housing

Going green eats up the green

Being kind to Mother Earth is priceless. But, if you insist, real estate can put a price on it—around $880/month in San Francisco these days.

Or so says the apartment site RENTCafe, which conducted a survey of apartments in 123 US cities and found that you’ll pay a premium of 24 percent to rent in an building certified eco-friendly by the US Green Building Commission in San Francisco.

From a certain point of view that’s not so bad. In a city like Tucson, Arizona, for example, the mark-up may run as high as 79 percent. Even though our median market rent is more than double theirs, they still end up paying more in real dollars to take the LEED.

The USGBC likes to promote certified buildings as cheaper in the long run, since energy efficiency is, well, efficient. So why might prices go up once you hang the plaque?

Well, RENTCafe is looking specifically at LEED-certified new buildings, and new buildings are of course going to be pricier than general market rents for the entire city.

Particularly since high-end units are the overwhelming majority of new construction here. And of course, a lot of the buildings going for gold (or silver, or platinum) are luxury buildings.

So it might not be the green standards per se driving up the rents. Which is good, because another thing the survey found is that renters in general don’t give a hoot.

Twenty-three percent of respondents nationwide said they wouldn’t pay an extra dime for a LEED home.

And another 52 percent said that they’d mull only a price hike of $100 or less.

Overall, only 10 percent of those polled would consider a premium of more than $500 worth it.