The Green Building Initiative (GBI) has unveiled an addition to the Green Globes rating system called Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors.

The rating tool is designed for non-residential buildings and aims to give both building owners and individual tenants the flexibility to choose design improvements for their space only, without needing to address an entire building.

“The Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors program will be especially attractive to tenants who want to improve their workspace sustainability in situations where a landlord does not plan to address changes in other tenant or common spaces,” GBI president Jerry Yudelson said.

The system is designed specifically for tenant improvement projects, remodels, and fit-outs.

The program uses a 1,000-point weighted scale that reflects the differing level of importance of the six environmental assessment areas:

● Project Management: 70 points, which includes commissioning and integrated design process.
● Energy: 300 points, which includes metering, lighting, and HVAC systems controls.
● Water: 90 points, which includes plumbing fixtures, residential and commercial food service fixtures and equipment, and water-intensive applications.
● Materials & Resources: 250 points, which includes minimized use of interior materials, deconstruction and disassembly, and building service life plan.
● Emissions and Other Impacts: 40 points, which includes integrated pest management, leak detection in commercial refrigeration, and janitorial equipment.
● Indoor Environment: 240 points, which includes ventilation, source control of indoor pollutants, and thermal comfort.

The Sustainable Interiors tool emphasizes Energy, Materials & Resources, and Indoor Environment as key performance indicators (KPIs). Those three make up nearly 80 per cent of the available points.

The program has no prerequisites, however, so participants are free to make any improvements they want.

“One of the aspects that makes Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors so versatile – and practical – is that it enables tenants to certify the specific environmental and sustainability attributes of the space they lease,” Yudelson said. “Other certifications include aspects of the entire building and surroundings, and as a result tenant improvements can be penalized for conditions they do not control.”

Green Globes calls the approach to material choices a “dual-pathway” approach. Interior designers and architects can use either life-cycle assessment or Environmental Product Descriptions for interior fit-outs, and get credit for flexible materials that can be reconfigured easily. Modular furnishings, casework, and multi-purpose furniture are suitable, and the project also can earn points for re-using existing non-structural elements such as finishes and furnishings.

As with other Green Globes ratings, the Sustainable Interiors tool makes use of independent assessors who both guide the clients through the work and assess it when complete. The standard is applicable to a variety of commercial buildings including large and small offices, retail stores, schools, colleges, universities, government buildings, and healthcare facilities.

The Green Globes standard originated in Canada in 2000 and was adapted by the Green Building Initiative, in 2004. GBI, based in Portland, Oregon, advocates the adoption of green building practices. Green Globes has steadily expanded its reach and is now accepted by the US General Services Administration and Department of Defense.

Canada’s federal government has recognized Green Globes for more than a decade. However, the system been mired in controversy surrounding charges that it is merely “greenwashing.”