It costs on average $4.01 per sq ft to get a building certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system for green buildings, according to recent market research. That figure translates to $830 million in LEED-related construction spending from 2000 to 2008, says a study by USGBC and consultant Booz Allen Hamilton.

The 52-page “Green Jobs Study” estimates $12.5 billion in LEED-certification-related spending will occur over the next five years, an amount that would sustain 230,000 jobs. In the same period, energy savings are expected to total $6 billion, with $4.8 billion directly attributable to LEED certification, says the study, which was released at USGBC’s 2009 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, held Nov. 11-13, in Phoenix.

The market research, which can be downloaded at, estimates $554 billion will be spent between 2009 and 2013 on construction of buildings that have multiple sustainable features or are LEED-certified. It will take 7.9 million jobs to create these buildings, says the report.

“The study demonstrates that investing in green buildings contributes significantly to our nation’s wealth while creating jobs in a range of occupations, from carpenters to cost estimators,” claims Gary Rahl, senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH), McLean, Va.

The BAH research uses McGraw-Hill Construction’s definition of “green building” stated in the 2008 publication “Green Construction Outlook Report.” It states that green buildings are those built to LEED or equivalent standards or which incorporate numerous green-building elements across multiple categories, such as energy, water and resource efficiency, responsible site management and improved indoor air quality. A project with just a few features, such as waterless urinals, would not be included, says McGraw-Hill Constuction, publisher of ENR.

From 2000 to 2008, development of buildings that fall under the green definition contributed $178 billion to the economy and accounted for 2.4 million U.S. jobs, says the USGBC report, which also uses McGraw-Hill estimates for the value of green buildings for the years 2005, 2008 and 2013. Based on those data points, BAH estimated green-building values for the intervening years.

In its attempts to quantify the economic impact of the LEED rating system, BAH conducted a meta-analysis of 10 case studies for 69 LEED-certified buildings and created a database to catalog the LEED-related expenditures.

At the conference, which drew some 28,000 registrants—about the same as last year—the nonprofit Healthy Building Network launched its online materials evaluation tool, Pharos. In development for more than three years, the tool is intended to help designers and others compare the health and environmental effects of various materials in use and during the manufacturing process.

So far, the database includes 100 products in three categories: resilient flooring, particleboard and wheat board, and batt insulation. Summaries of the products contain lists of their contents linked to a chemical library. Unlike other...