The fourth annual sustainability survey conducted by CoreNet Global and Jones Lang LaSalle reveals a small but important shift in corporate attitudes from 2009 to 2010 when it comes to the importance of operating costs compared to less-tangible workforce benefits of sustainability.

In 2010, 32% of respondents ranked office energy cost as their most important sustainability metric, down from 37% who ranked it number one in 2009. At the same time, employee health and productivity was ranked the most important measure of success by 31% in 2010, up from 29% in 2009. An additional 11% ranked employee satisfaction as the most important criteria.

“The focus on containing operational cost remains a driver of many sustainability programs, but corporate real estate executives also recognize the value of enhancing workplace effectiveness with strategies that promote employee health, well-being and productivity,” said Dan Probst, chairman of energy and sustainability services at Jones Lang LaSalle.

Companies that occupy office space around the world consider sustainability a key factor in their space occupancy plans, and half of corporate real estate executives say they will pay extra for space in green buildings, according to the survey, conducted in the fourth quarter of 2010.

The results reveal a corporate real estate industry attempting to reconcile the goal of reducing the environmental impact of buildings with the need to control costs.

Sustainability is a critical business issue for 64% of respondents and 92% consider sustainability criteria in their location decisions. The number of respondents willing to pay more for green leased space jumped from 37% in 2009 to 50% in 2010.

“Corporations increasingly view sustainability strategies as a permanent aspect of their business, and real estate executives are key to implementing those strategies,” said Michael Anderson, Manager of Research and the Knowledge Center at CoreNet Global. “The high percentage of corporate real estate executives worldwide who consider sustainability in making location decisions shows how deeply this issue is engrained in the business community.”

Additional findings of the CoreNet Global/Jones Lang LaSalle Sustainability Survey include: Green building certifications are considered by 88% and energy labels by 87% in administering their portfolio. And 48% of occupiers would pay up to a 10% premium for sustainable space, while 2% expect to pay over 10%.