Green Globes, the up-and-coming green building rating system that is supported by the timber, chemical, and plastics industries, has recently seen several favorable government decisions.
Most recent is South Carolina enacting a law that prohibits using LEED v4’s materials credit on state-funded projects. The materials credit addresses materials—what they’re made of and where they came from—which LEED opponents said could harm the state’s industries.
Green Globes is administered by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), based in Portland, Oregon. Now headed by Jerry Yudelson, a veteran figure in the green building movement, the GBI counts as board members several members of the timber, plastics, and chemical industries.
Green Globes has no equivalent standard to LEED’s materials credit, leading some critics to say that Green Globes is simply an industry-friendly, “greenwashing” standard. However, South Carolina’s chapter of the American Institute of Architects, noting that the bill as originally introduced contained language that would have banned the use of LEED outright, said the vote can be seen as a victory. The bill also requires the creation of a new committee composed of design and construction professionals, manufacturers, and higher education representatives. This new committee will “review upcoming versions of LEED and Green Globes and make recommendations to the State Budget & Control Board.”
In 2013, South Carolina passed a law banning rating systems that do not recognize timber credits from the Sustainable Forestry Initiative or the American Tree Farm System. LEED recognizes only the Forest Stewardship Council’s rating for use of certified sustainable wood, while Green Globes recognizes several timber standards.
Earlier this year, Ohio’s Senate passed a bill that banned the use of LEED for government-funded projects. As of this writing, the bill had not received a vote in the Ohio House. Maine and Georgia have also essentially banned the use of LEED in government projects. Both executive orders prohibit the use of a green building standard that does not equally recognize standards of the Forest Stewardship Council, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, and the American Tree Farm System for sustainable wood products.
In fall 2013, one of the U.S. government’s largest agencies, the General Services Administration (GSA), approved the use of Green Globes in addition to LEED v4 in government projects that require adherence to a green building standard. Basing its decision on the report Green Building Certification System Review, the GSA determined that Green Globes is slightly better for new construction, while LEED is slightly better for projects on existing buildings.
A large part of Green Globes’ appeal is the claim of a simpler, cheaper, more streamlined process. Users complete an online questionnaire and have an authorized assessor assigned to the project. The assessor can offer suggestions during the process, helping to guide the project to greater efficiency and a higher score. A site visit with the assessor is included with the package, as well. Jerry Yudelson, Green Building Initiative President, said, “You’re getting feedback along the way,” he said. “There’s less uncertainty.”
Builders who have used both standards say that Green Globes’ online questionnaire is fast and efficient, and it costs much less. For Melvin Mark, a Portland, Oregon, development firm, Green Globes’ highest certification cost $20,000 for a 22,000 square metre project. LEED would have cost $100,000.