This year, 43 organizations, collectively representing more than 2 billion square feet of leased space, earned Green Lease Leader recognition from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These organizations include both owners and renters of large and small commercial offices, retail and industrial properties, and multifamily buildings. The 2021 Green Lease Leaders were recognized at the Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit, a virtual leadership symposium.

Through the Better Buildings Initiative, DOE partnered with the Institute for Market Transformation (IMT) in 2014 to develop the Green Lease Leaders program, an industry recognition platform that recognizes real estate companies and practitioners who modernize their leases to spur collaborative action on energy efficiency, air quality, cost savings, and sustainability in buildings.

Green leasing uses new lease clauses to help realign the financial incentives of sustainability and energy measures into traditional leases. Through these modernized contracts, landlords and tenants can establish relationships that incentivize sustainability in energy and water use, as well as occupant health. For example, a green lease may put a limit on the tenant’s overall lighting load, which can significantly reduce energy use while still providing the renter control over the space’s lighting design.

IMT estimates that green leases can help reduce utility bills by up to approximately 50 cents per square foot (22% reduction in energy costs) in U.S. office buildings alone. If all leased office buildings executed green leases, the market could reap over $3 billion in annual cost savings.

Green Lease Leaders demonstrate that the lease can be used as a valuable tool to remove the split incentive barrier, which poses a major obstacle to achieving high-performance buildings in leased space. Through green leasing, landlords and tenants develop closer relationships that serve as a launch point for additional building investments in health, electrification, and sustainability.

Landlord Tenant Gold Recognition title with 22 logos of winners of the Gold Green Lease Leaders title

For the first time, 2021’s Green Lease Leaders included two multifamily housing organizations. Green leasing in multifamily buildings can improve home energy efficiency and reduce energy burden inequities for both tenants and residents by lowering energy bills and supporting affordability.

Despite the financial and logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw more organizations than ever qualify as Green Lease Leaders, representing nearly twice as much floor space as the 2020 Leaders. This year’s winners are majority Gold status, meaning that they have already put their sustainability and efficiency plans into action.

Green leasing is also taking off around the globe. This year saw a total of seven international awardees, showing how green leasing can be part of the global solution to the problems of climate change and energy demand.

To view the full list of this year’s awardees and learn more about how you can get involved, visit Green Lease Leaders.