The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standards can raise upfront costs for building owners, but LEED designation can return the investment quickly with savings on energy and property values, said Rob Watson, who helped establish the rating system with the U.S. Green Building Council. "Apart from having lower energy and water bills, green buildings are able to charge higher rents, have better occupancy rates and higher sales prices," Watson said. LEED covers 1.5 billion square feet of developed property, and it will continue to grow as renewable energy use becomes more common, he added.

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