Green Building Pilot


When a building like Georgia Tech’s Kendeda Building for Innovative Sustainable Design goes up, it turns out that it really does have a measurable impact on the pace of green building adoption in the community, according to first-of-its-kind research conducted in the School of Public Policy and School of Economics.

In fact, local quarterly green building adoption rates approximately double following the completion of a pilot or demonstration project, according to the analysis by School of Public Policy Associate Professor Dan Matisoff, former School of Economics Ph.D. student Chris Blackburn, former Ph.D. student Mallory Flowers, now an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island; and former Georgia Tech Associate Professor Juan Moreno-Cruz, now at the University of Waterloo.

“Pragmatically, our research suggests that programs like LEED and LEED-Pilots can help accelerate the update of environmentally-friendly technologies in the built environment,” the authors wrote in their paper, published in the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. “As urban populations in cities expand worldwide, mitigating the impacts of buildings on the natural environment is critical to sustainable development. Greener building designs use fewer resources, mitigate urban heat islands, protect habitat, and provide healthier spaces for people to thrive.”

Their analysis, the first systematic empirical assessment of whether such projects boost emerging green building technologies, uses a difference-in-difference-in-differences approach to examine the impact of pilot and demonstration projects on green building uptake. The researchers leveraged differences in location and timing of the projects to understand changes in local building patterns. Variation in adoption rates within a particular LEED standard provided the third difference in their evaluation. The additional factor helped mitigate against the model mistakenly crediting the pilot project for a spike in green building adoption due to another cause, such as a city’s implementation of green building incentives after a trial project.

The study found that projects under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) pilot program increase initial adoption of the technologies demonstrated by 0.5% to 1.4% nationwide, with even further increases occurring as more buildings are built. The researchers also found that knowledge gained in pilot and demonstration projects reduce implementation costs for non—participating organizations by around 9%.

Read the full story from the Georgia Tech School of Public Policy