The Green Globes system was introduced by The Green Building Initiative (GBI) in the United States in 2004. It was adapted from a Canadian protocol of the same name, which evolved through an iterative process from BREEAM Canada. BREEAM Canada was an existing buildings protocol developed through the Canadian Standards Association. BREEAM is the highly successful rating system that was developed in the United Kingdom and was brought to North America originally by ECD Energy & Environment Canada.
In Canada, Green Globes is one of only two green building rating systems recommended by the Canadian government. Under the trade name BOMA BESt (formerly Go Green Plus), it is the basis for the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) of Canada's national energy and environmental program for existing buildings, and is also being used by the federal government for its entire existing building portfolio.
Green Globes’ existing buildings tool won popularity in Canada for its ease of use as both a management tool for evaluating environmental performance of existing buildings as well as driving green certification and improved returns on investment. Its momentum has continued and with more than 850 buildings certified in Canada.
GBI’s recently introduced Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB) tool is building on this track record adding significant users in the United States. Also, GBI’s Green Globes for New Construction tool which has been promoted in the U.S. since 2005 is in process to become the industry’s first commercial green building rating system recognized as an American National Standard.
Development of the Green Globes system in Canada, as well as its subsequent adaptation for the U.S. has involved many iterations and participation by a wide range of organizations and individuals. The full history of Green Globes provides a detailed list of these organizations. Changes originally made to adapt Green Globes for the U.S. market were non-substantive-e.g. units of measurement, U.S. versus Canadian references and incorporation of U.S. programs such as the EPA’s Target Finder. These changes were made by Dr. Harvey Bryan, Ph.D., Arizona State University.
GBI also launched a two-stage third-party assessment process using highly qualified third-party assessors, typically architects and engineers with more than 15 years of experience. The third-party assessment process includes review of essential documents as well as an on-site walk through of the building. New buildings are required to undergo a thorough review of construction documents prior to the onsite visit. Documentation review for existing buildings occurs onsite during the site visit. A complete third-party assessment is required prior to a building receiving a certified rating of one, two, three or four Green Globes. GBI was the first green building organization to require an on-site walk through as an essential component of third-party assessment. For more information, please see #12, "What does the third-party assessment process entail" below.
GBI also sought and received accreditation in 2005 as a standards developer by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), and has begun the process to establish Green Globes as an official ANSI standard. The GBI ANSI-approved process is consensus-based and involves a balanced committee of users, producers, and interested parties with required public comment periods and full committee ballot voting. This committee is conducting its review of the GBI Proposed American National Standard 01-200XP: “Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings” through an open and transparent process. The final standard will be incorporated into the next version of the Green Globes for New Construction tools. To learn more about the GBI’s standard development activities, click here
The Green Building Initiative owns the license to promote and further develop Green Globes in the United States. GBI’s technical committee is charged with the further development of the standard—also called the assessment protocol or rating system—following GBI’s ANSI- approved procedures. The final standard will be incorporated into the next version of the Green Globes for New Construction tools.
To serve on GBI’s technical committee working on the further development of GBI Proposed American National Standard 01-200XP: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings, please click here to apply
The strength of the Green Globes system is that it is written in a clear and concise manner that allows beginners as well as experienced practitioners to be fully engaged in using the system in minutes. While there is no substitute for having highly qualified and appropriately licensed team members, the Green Globes system is questionnaire-driven. Users are walked through a logical sequence of questions that guide their steps, as well as providing tips for integrating important elements of sustainability. Answers consist of a combination of yes/no, multiple choice, data insertion, or non-applicable. Questionnaires become more detailed as the process progresses. Once the appropriate questionnaire is complete, the system automatically generates a report written in lay terms with suggestions for improvement and helpful links for supplementary information.
Users can increase their comfort level with the Green Globes tool by participating in online training available on GBI’s website. In-person training can be arranged for a separate fee. On-line live demonstrations will be conducted in Webex throughout the year. For more information on upcoming web seminars, please click here.
Even though there are similarities regarding what constitutes the best energy and environmental practices among the major green building rating systems—such as Green Globes, BREEAM, LEED, and the GBC tool— the Green Globes system does have a number of distinct attributes. In addition to being easy to use and affordable, Green Globes encourages designers and building operators to consider the elements of sustainability early in the evaluation process. Green Globes tools generate a written report that can promote interaction between team members and owners. Among other attributes, it:
According to the Department of Energy, the 81 million buildings in the United States consume more energy than any other segment of the economy, including industry and transportation. Although green building represents an enormous opportunity to increase energy-efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, it doesn't mean there is a one-size-fits-all approach. By having a variety of credible options, people can choose the one that meets their specific needs—with the result being that more buildings are built or retrofitted to high standards for a variety of commonly valued environment and efficiency goals, including energy performance and occupant health.
Because it's online and interactive, the Green Globes system provides a convenient method to input, edit, and securely store building assessment data. Complex paper applications and forms are eliminated with the online assessment. Building data entered and submitted online directly updates the scoring and reports so that users have immediate feedback regarding the performance of their building and expected rating. The final certification and rating process is also expedited by enabling the third party assessors to quickly view building data and update ratings based on the on-site assessment results.
Green Globes is most cost effective in that through its value-added online system and a comprehensive yet streamlined in person third-party review process, you are able to save significantly on consulting fees that have typically been associated with green certification.
There is an annual per building license fee for use of the online tool and a third-party assessment fee. GBI’s business model makes conducting a Green Globes assessment affordable for any building, and typically achievable for no more than a total of $10,000. Users can register/subscribe for both the annual license for the online Green Globes tools and choose to purchase a third-party assessment (required for certification) simply using GBI’s ecommerce system, which accepts credit card payments.
Note: Third-party assessor travel expenses are billed separately. Optional building plaque, certificate, and media/publicity package are also available.
To obtain a Green Globes rating, you must complete the online questionnaire using Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB). The process is as follows:
Step 1: Purchase a subscription to Green Globes
Step 2: Receive and click on link in activation email if required
Step 3: Login using user ID (email address) and unique password
Step 4: Add a building
Step 5: Enter basic building information
Step 6: Use step-through navigation and building dashboard to complete survey (use ToolTips for help)
Step 7: See projected (self-assessed) rating and get feedback using automatic reports
Step 8: Order and schedule a Third-party (on-site) assessment
Step 9: Assist the assessor in completing the on-site assessment
Step 10: Receive your Green Globes™ Rating
Note: if you took a 30 day free trial, you will need to purchase a subscription to obtain the self assessed score for the entire building and to obtain the complete reports and improvement suggestions.
The functionality of Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB) is limited for 30 day free trials. Users may enter data and fully complete the questionnaire for all sections during a free trial, and this data is stored and retained within Green Globes; however only the Resources category score, report section, and improvement section are available for a free trial. At any time during or after a free trial, users may upgrade to a subscription easily by using the links provided. All building data is retained in our system, even if your free trial expires before the building has been upgraded to a subscription. Simply click register/subscribe using your already created User ID (email address) and password and following the online instructions for making your purchase of the annual license. After subscription payment has occurred, the full Green Globes functionality will be available.
The New Construction tool functionality is identical regardless of whether a user has purchased a subscription or has only taken a 30 day free trial.
Green Globes users can order a Green Globes third party assessment at any time, upon purchasing a subscription, during the completion of the questionnaire, or after completion of the online questionnaire.
After logging in to your Green Globes user account, users are presented with their account home. Click on the link Order Certification/Rating Services and you will be taken to an order entry page. For Existing Building Projects, order "Existing Building Site Assessment/Green Globes Rating" For New Construction projects, order "New Construction Complete (Stage I and II Assessments)"; For onsite assessments, users must also select a payment option for assessor travel costs. Two options are provided a) Pay a $1,000 flat fee upfront, or b) Have GBI bill you actual travel costs (Plus 20% overhead and handling fee) upon completion of the assessment. Enter the building, project contact, and payment information in the online form and submit your order.
After your online self-evaluation is completed and payment is received, a GBI representative will be in contact with you to schedule the assessment and provide the assessor contact information. You can prepare for the assessment process by downloading a pre-assessment checklist from the Green Globes Customer Training area.
To receive a final certified rating of one, two, three or four Green Globes, the data submitted online must be reviewed by a GBI-authorized and Green Globes-trained third party assessor. GBI uses highly qualified individuals with significant experience in design, engineering, energy analysis/management, commissioning, construction and/or facility management. Using the building’s construction documents, analysis documents, management policies, facility records, and other support materials, the third-party assessor reviews the completed Green Globes online questionnaire and confirms that the percentage of points indicated—which the system has projected on the basis of the answers to the questionnaire—is supported by documented evidence. GBI assessors also make a site visit to walk through the building, review additional documentation, and interview relevant staff. If the assessor finds that incorrect claims were made, or a positive practice was not recorded, he or she modifies the input, justifying why the change was made. A quality assurance protocol helps to ensure that assessors conduct their assessments properly and consistently.
The final certified rating allows the building team to promote the building as having earned one, two, three, or four Green Globes. Buildings cannot claim to have achieved a Green Globes rating or certification unless they have successfully completed the two-stage (paperwork and on-site walk through) process.
Capital costs of constructing or upgrading a building to meet any green standard are highly debated with some studies demonstrating that integrated design and delivery yield buildings well within normal budgets, and others demonstrate a one to eight percent increase in costs. Green Globes' online system and unique two-stage third-party assessment process makes the process more streamlined and therefore cost effective in relation to other green building programs. Using a highly functional tool such as Green Globes to monitor sustainability throughout the life cycle of a building can help maximize return on investment through reducing costly change orders and achieving measured savings through operations. This, in combination with coordinated management practices and lower maintenance requirements, can more than make up for the potential of slightly increased initial costs.
The Green Globes system paints a clear picture of a building's projected (New Construction) or actual (Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings) sustainability practices and energy efficiency performance, giving practical advice for improvements, offering resources for making upgrades, and providing additional information on relevant best practices, strategies and technologies.
With the current Green Globes system, education credits are granted in the New Construction rating system for using LCA while making decisions on building assemblies and materials. GBI has also begun a process to further integrate LCA into the Green Globes tool through its efforts to develop the New Construction rating system as an ANSI standard. The outcome of GBI’s efforts allows cradle-to-grave environmental impacts of various building assemblies to be compared more easily. See Life Cycle Assessment for more information on GBI’s research and tool development.
Out of 1,000 overall points, the largest percentage of points are contained in the Energy assessment area, which is focused on reducing energy consumption, increasing use of renewables, and decreasing carbon emissions. Green Globes uses performance benchmark criteria to evaluate the probable energy consumption of a building. However, instead of comparing a building design to the performance of a hypothetical structure designed to ASHRAE 90.1 standards, Green Globes compares against data generated by the EPA's Energy Star tools; specifically these are better performing buildings in the Energy Star database. In addition to the energy performance benchmark criteria, the Green Globes system directly addresses microclimatic design considerations, space optimization and the use of energy efficient technologies.
There are many incentives in place for going green with Green Globes. The government and financial sectors have been actively promoting green certification for more than a decade. As many insurance carriers also see the merits to insuring a green building, you may want to check with your carrier to see if there is a reduction in premiums for building or maintaining a "green" building.
By having an GBI third party assessor review and indicate that you have completed the Green Globes assessment protocol, your achievement can then be recognized publicly as having achieved one, two, three, or four Green Globes. You add value and credibility—in the market, the community, and among occupants and tenants.
The online self-evaluation for Green Globes Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB) is active and valid for a period of one year. The online self-evaluation for Green Globes New Construction (NC) projects is active and valid for a period of up to five years after purchase. Data may be entered, and reports viewed and downloaded, until the subscription expires. Upon commencement of third party verification services, editing of the GG questionnaire should be restricted to the assessors and GBI administrators. Once certification is completed for a particular building, the subscription is considered to be expired and no changes should be made to the online evaluation.
Due to the nature of Green Globes certification, a specific expiration date for the certification is not applicable.
A New Construction (NC) building certification is recognition of the sustainability of the implemented design and construction or major renovation of a building. A Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings (CIEB) building certification is recognition of the sustainable management and performance of a building based upon current policies, procedures, and maintenance practices as well as recent operational data. The CIEB certification is a record of the achievement for sustainability at a specific point in time and typically evaluates operational data for a period 12 months prior to the certification date.
The owner of any new building (or existing building that has undergone a major renovation) that has 12-18 months of fully occupied operation is encouraged to assess, measure, and certify the sustainable performance, management, and operation of the building with the Green Globes CIEB program. Buildings previously certified with Green Globes NC are especially encouraged to pursue CIEB certification after 12-18 months of fully occupied operation. Buildings can be re-certified as often as every 12 months after the initial certification, and GBI recommends evaluating performance on an annual basis by renewing the building’s Green Globes subscription and completing the online self-evaluation in order to evaluate performance relative to the prior certification. Re-certification for existing buildings is recommended at least every three years—more frequently if significant changes were made since certification that will impact performance.
Green Globes has been recommended through public laws passed in more than eighteen states. The requirements in each law vary, some recommend use of a third-party certification, including Green Globes and other rating systems, and some require certification or provide incentives for the achievement of certification, such as tax incentives or early permitting.
Several federal agencies also have written Green Globes into their sustainability policies and Green Globes is being piloted by several agencies.
For the most current information on green building laws or incentives in your state, visit the DSIRE-Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy located on the front page of the GBI website.
The financial sector has also implemented financial incentives for certifying to Green Globes. Fireman’s Fund was the first to offer a discount tied to green building certification. In 2006, Fireman’s Fund began offering 5% premium discounts on various products tied to Green Globes certification. Liberty Mutual, AON and Travelers Insurance also offer products tied to Green Globes and building rating system certifications.
Green Globes Professionals market their expertise in the use of Green Globes to building owners and facility managers who would like assistance with the assessment process. They may be retained for everything from initiating the project, completing the online evaluation, providing technical support to the building owner, to project managing all aspects of obtaining a Green Globes rating and certification—with the exception of third-party assessment, which can only be done by an authorized Green Globes Assessor.
The involvement of a Green Globes professional will speed, simplify, and enhance the Green Globes building certification process for clients because of the expertise of the GGP in the areas of the Green Globes protocol, online tools, and total certification process.
Green Globes Professional's may further contribute by giving technical support to users, assembling a complete package of information and documentation that will be needed by the third party assessor during the on-site inspection, or even managing the total certification project on the client’s behalf from start to finish.
No. As has always been the case, clients are welcome to undertake the online evaluation and to contact GBI directly to order third party assessments and building certifications without assistance from a GGP. Green Globes was designed to be practical, user-friendly and affordable with the express goal of ensuring that mainstream architects, engineers, property managers, and/or building owners could share in its benefits.
No. Green Globes Assessors may only conduct third-party assessments as assigned by GBI, which selects the appropriate GGA based on factors such as geographic proximity, qualifications, expertise with the specific building type, and fair distribution of assignments.
Recognizing that Green Globes Assessors are accomplished industry professionals that may provide a wide range of services to potential GBI clients, the nature of the Assessors contractual relationship with the GBI is restricted only with respect to performing third party assessments to which the Assessor is assigned on behalf of GBI. Outside of these GBI engagements, and for services that involve Green Globes, the role of the GGA would be more similar to that of a Green Globes Professional. As such, business between the assessor and client is only limited by the Green Globes personnel certification agreement, and in most regards the conflict of interest limitations of the assessment services contract are not applicable.
The Green Globes Assessor credential is reserved for experienced industry professionals that meet threshold requirements, complete mandatory in-depth training—related to best practices in green building and management, the Green Globes assessment protocol and application of the tool, third-party assessment and rating/certification process—and pass a rigorous exam. To protect the objectivity and integrity of the program, assessors must sign a business agreement with GBI and adhere to conflict of interest guidelines and disclosure requirements.
Please contact your assigned Assessor and Green Building Initiative within 2 weeks of receiving your Green Building Initiative approved preliminary third party assessment report. Clearly identify the specific discrepancy/concern item(s), and provide supporting documentation in order to enable the Assessor to amend the report, score, and rating (if warranted) during the rating resolution period. For complete appeal policies and procedures, please consult the GBI Assessment Discrepancy Resolution & Appeal Guidelines document.
You may file an appeal with Green Building Initiative regarding specific discrepancies previously identified and discussed with your Green Globes Assessor, but not resolved to your satisfaction. A one-time appeal fee must be paid prior to Green Building Initiative evaluating the merits of the appeal. For complete appeal policies and procedures, please consult the GBI Assessment Discrepancy Resolution & Appeal Guidelines document.