As longtime champions of socially and environmentally responsible investing, First Affirmative Financial Network felt compelled to go green when relocating to new offices in 2007. "Moving presented another opportunity to demonstrate that we walk our talk," says Steve Schueth, First Affirmative's president. At a cost of about $40,000, of which $15,000 was funded by the new landlord's build-out allowance, the Colorado Springs-based advisory firm pursued and obtained the U.S. Green Building Council's prestigious LEED CI certification for commercial interiors. 

The lesson for other shops is that the best time to green an office is before you occupy it. "You don't have to move people around," Schueth says.

Another tip: Think green from the get-go, he says. Shifting gears halfway into a project is difficult and costly. "If you're serious about green building or rehab, get the right people involved at the start of the planning. Then you can design a project that doesn't cost any more than conventional construction."