In a case study that examines the outcomes of a flexible information-based policy, we observe how organizations obtain Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. We use a regression discontinuity analysis to identify practices used to upgrade certification tiers. This analysis reveals preferences for green certification strategies and, we argue, intimates the perceived motivations for green certification. We distinguish practices that potentially confer private gains through returns to efficiency and productivity investments, from practices that only provide public benefits. Data show that organizations strategically certify to avoid high-cost resource use, appeal to key stakeholders, and communicate building and organization quality. Builders upgrading to the highest tiers are more likely to deploy practices with private gains. Results suggest a willingness to extend short time horizons associated with energy-efficiency investments in exchange for marketing benefits. Our discussion notes the capacity for certifications to mitigate market barriers associated with the energy-efficiency gap.

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Keywords corporate sustainability, energy-efficiency gap, green certification, regression discontinuity, signaling strategy
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Journal Journal of Environmental Planning and Management
Flowers, M.E, Matisoff, D.C. (Daniel C.), & Noonan, D.S. (Douglas S.). (2018). For what it's worth: evaluating revealed preferences for green certification. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 1–19. doi:10.1080/09640568.2018.1447444