1. Sustainability
April 26, 2023

Green co-working spaces on the rise as US cities ranked on LEED-certified buildings

A new study has revealed which US cities have the most green buildings with co-working spaces.

By Alex Summers

Co-working spaces have become increasingly popular in recent years, especially post-pandemic, as more professionals seek flexible workspaces that can accommodate their hybrid needs. However, as concerns around sustainability grow, many companies and individuals are looking for co-working spaces that have green credentials.

green co-working spaces
Remote working on the roof deck at The Wing in Boston, which closed in August 2022. Green co-working spaces have been on a journey since the pandemic. (Photo by Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

In response to this, CoworkingCafe recently conducted a study to determine which US cities have the most ‘green buildings’ with co-working spaces. The study focused on buildings that have received LEED certification, the most widely used and recognised rating system for green buildings.

Highlights of the co-working green building report

New York City was found to have the highest number of green buildings with co-working spaces, with a total of 30. This was almost double the number of the runner-up, Washington, DC, which had 16. San Francisco came in third place, with 15 green buildings that included coworking spaces.

In addition to analysing the cities with the most green buildings with co-working spaces, the study also looked at the states with the most LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces. Here, California and Texas were found to have the highest number of green buildings with co-working spaces, with 43 and 32 respectively. New York, while coming in first in terms of cities, fell to third place at the state level.

The study also looked at the co-working operators that checked the most spaces in LEED-certified buildings. Here, Regus was found to be the top operator, with 65 spaces, followed by WeWork with 38. Industrious, however, had the largest share of LEED-certified co-working spaces of the total available inventory, at 21%.

Cities with green co-working buildings 

  1. New York City has the highest number of LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces in the US, with 30 buildings. While the city was only ranked third for all LEED-certified commercial buildings last year, it now leads the way in green co-working spaces. However, the percentage of LEED-certified buildings out of the total number of co-working spaces in the city is only 8%, compared with 22% in San Francisco and Boston.
  2. Washington, DC, has 16 LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces available, with five achieving Silver status and 11 reaching Gold status. These buildings make up 21% of the total co-working construction in the capital, making it a great option for environmentally conscious workers.
  3. San Francisco ranks third in the list of cities with LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces, with 15 such buildings and 12 reaching Gold status. San Francisco also has the highest percentage of co-working buildings with LEED certifications (22%). Two of the buildings, both with Platinum-level certifications, are operated by WeWork. San Francisco is known for being an early adopter of environmentally-conscious practices, including green buildings, energy and water reduction, recycling and sustainable food options.
  4. Atlanta ranks sixth among the ten US cities with the highest number of green buildings, and has 13 LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces, accounting for 13% of the total 101 certified commercial structures. Out of the 13 buildings, five have Silver and seven have Gold rankings, while the remaining one has Certified status. These buildings contribute to Georgia’s sixth place in the state ranking for green and sustainable practices in commercial real estate.
  5. Houston has implemented a climate action plan that includes commercial real estate buildings after registering high per-capita emissions in 2020. There are currently 12 LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces in the city, with nine of them certified at the Gold level. However, only 9% of the total number of co-working buildings in Houston are LEED certified, which is the third-lowest percentage in the top ten.
  6. Boston has been prioritising sustainability for over a decade, with a focus on regenerative design. There are 11 LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces in the city, making up 22% of all co-working buildings. Seven of these buildings have reached Gold status, and Boston also has a Platinum-level LEED building with co-working.
  7. Denver has 11 LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces out of the total 66 co-working properties in the city. Four of those buildings reached Silver status, six received the Gold LEED certification, and one is at the Certified level, showcasing their quality and commitment to sustainable commercial real estate options.
  8. Chicago has implemented sustainable practices and has a Sustainable Action Agenda in place. It has a relatively low share of co-working spaces that are part of the ten LEED-certified buildings compared with the total number of co-working buildings in the city. Nevertheless, it still makes the top cities list, and one building has reached the Platinum level with six others at Gold status.
  9. Miami has eight LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces, which make up 11% of the total buildings that have co-working spaces in the city. These buildings are part of Miami-Dade County’s Sustainable Buildings Program, which promotes green building practices in the county’s built environment. Miami’s eight LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces contribute to nearly half of Florida’s total of 17, placing the state fourth in the state ranking.
  10. Los Angeles has a sustainability programme called Los Angeles Green Building Code, which promotes public health, reduces the carbon footprint, and decreases water and energy waste. There are eight LEED-certified buildings with co-working spaces in the city, contributing to its efforts to bring more green into real estate. LA also has one LEED building with co-working that reached Platinum level certification, and six others that earned the Gold standard.

A generational shift to co-working

The move towards sustainable co-working spaces is in line with the concerns of the youngest generation to enter the workforce, Gen Z. Known for their focus on sustainability and climate change, 64% of 18 to 22-year-olds deem it important for their employer to act in a sustainable manner, according to the study. They are also more likely to work longer for an employer that is environmentally responsible, and more than half are willing to pay up to 10% more for a sustainable product.

The study highlights the growing importance of sustainability in the commercial real estate sector, and the ways in which co-working spaces are adapting to meet this demand. As more companies prioritise eco-friendly practices, the trend towards green buildings with co-working spaces is likely to continue to grow.

[Read more: New report highlights best US suburbs for city-like livability]

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