GREEN BUILDING INITIATIVE’S STATEMENT ON GSA’S “SUSTAINABLE BUILDING RATING SYSTEMS SUMMARY”
Ward Hubbell, Green Building Initiative
The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is pleased that after less than two years in the US market, its web-based and interactive rating system, Green Globes™, progressed through the GSA’s screening criteria as one of five potentially applicable sustainable rating systems for federal buildings. It is unfortunate, however that the GSA appears to have strayed from the original request from Congress, which was to report on the “progress and next steps toward recognition of other credible sustainable building rating systems within the U.S. General Services Administration sustainable building procurement process.” Instead, it has chosen to draw conclusions based upon a set of misleading international comparisons which failed to provide Congress with the information requested and may have simply served to reinforce GSA’s pre-conceived ideas and biases.
Since GSA based its report on information available on our web site in May 2006, the study omitted several important milestones in the evolution of both our organization and our web-based tool for commercial buildings called Green Globes. For example, the GBI has become the first and only national green building organization to be named a Standards Developing Organization by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). We are now fully engaged in the process of establishing Green Globes as the first and only American National Standard for commercial green building. GBI has recruited a technical committee consisting of individual experts and representatives from respected well-known organizations as well as federal agencies. The committee includes a balance of users, producers and interested third-parties who will independently update and maintain the standard through ANSI’s internationally recognized consensus process. A complete list of technical committee members can be found on our web site at www.thegbi.org. Included in the mandate of this technical committee is the further incorporation of Life Cycle Assessment into the Green Globes tool.
GBI has also concluded the US pilot of Green Globes for new construction, in part, by completing the certification of eight buildings (the same number of buildings rated using LEED/NC in its 1998 pilot), including the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum in Little Rock (Two Green Globes), the highly-acclaimed Alberici Headquarters in St. Louis (Four Green Globes), and the Pfizer, Inc. CRU building in New Haven, Conn. (Three Green Globes). Green Globes has been officially recognized, alongside LEED, by legislation or executive order in six states (AR, CT, HI, MD, PA, and WI) and by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (see September 7 statement). Additionally, the Fireman’s Fund, a leading U.S. insurer, recently announced its intention to launch an insurance product that provides a five percent discount for buildings that achieve a Green Globes rating or its LEED equivalent. Finally, a recent study conducted by the University of Minnesota also reports a significant degree of similarity in the content of Green Globes and LEED. The university's study estimates that, “Nearly 80 percent of the available points in Green Globes system are addressed in LEED 2.2 and that over 85 percent of the points specified in LEED 2.2 are addressed in the Green Globes system.”
We believe Green Globes’ technical consistency, which is certainly on a par with the LEED system along with its significantly lower-cost and more user-friendly web-based format provides a compelling case for GSA and other government agencies to consider as they seek the most efficient and cost-effective tools for the design and management of better performing, healthier and more energy-efficient buildings.
It is unfortunate that this information was not reported or apparently even considered in the GSA study. However, we remain hopeful that GSA will fulfill its Congressional mandate to work with credible organizations, such as the GBI, to encourage the development of new tools which can help accelerate the adoption of sustainable design in the public sector.
GBI remains focused on developing and promoting scientifically credible and consensus-based tools and to furthering the cause of green building by stimulating competition, choice and continuous improvement.
To view the University of Minnesota study, please click here