LEED and Green Globes as a Green Building rating system


LEED and Green Globes are Green Building rating systems used in both the United States and Canada. Both systems focus on providing tools for developers of Green Buildings by using online assessments and rating systems.  These rating systems are very valuable tools for developers who are looking to create Green Buildings, as they provide information and tools to help developers efficiently develop and certify a Green Building. While both systems use many of the same tools, they are vastly different from one another.

When looking at programs such as LEED and Green Globes, one of the words that you will see in both programs is certification and eligibility. Certification is essentially a stamp of approval, which identifies this building as being an official Green Building under the requirements set by either LEED or Green Globes. Eligibility refers to how eligible the particular building is for receiving certification. The LEED rating system is better utilized for existing buildings whereas the Green Globes system is better utilized for new buildings. When you are looking to get certification from either Green Globes or LEED, both companies have different systems for getting certification.

LEED has a rating system in which there are 100 points that can be earned in total and 10 bonus points that can also be earned. There are four different levels of certification certified, silver, gold, and platinum.  To get the basic certified level of certification, you need between 40-49 points, with silver you need 50-59 points, with gold 60-79, and with platinum you need over 80 points.  Getting certification under LEED is very difficult even at the most basic level, however, there are benefits to getting the higher levels of certification. Compared to other rating systems, LEED is very stringent in their requirements and getting these points is difficult.  Similar to Green Globes, there are different categories from which the points come from, namely site, materials, water, energy, indoor environment, and LCA.  Additionally, exclusive to the LEED’s system are the categories of location and transportation along with regional priority.

green globes logoGreen Globes has a rating system in which there are a 1000 possible points and four different levels of certification.  To obtain the base level of certification you need between 35-54%, to achieve the next level of certification you need between 55-69%, to get the next level of certification you need between 70-84%, and to achieve the highest level of certification you need between 85-100% of the possible points.  As with LEED, Green Globes has different categories from which the points are obtained namely: namely site, materials, water, energy, indoor environment, and LCA.  Categories that are exclusive to Green Globes include project management and emissions.

An example of a building that is certified under the LEED system is 1800 K St in Washington DC.  This building had originally obtained a LEED certification, but since it was renovated, they decided to have it reassessed.  After making multiple improvements to the building, such as the filter system and the plumbing, they receive an LEED silver rating.

An example of a building that was certified using the Green Globes rating system is the US Department of Veterans in Portland in 2009.  In order to receive certification from Green Globes, they first had to complete and online exam and then have a 3rd party assessor come and inspect the building, much like an audit.  The building received a score of 83.85% and qualified for the rating of 3 Green Globes.

Gaining certification under either system does present challenges, particularly when aiming for the higher levels of certification. However, there are a few advantages to getting certification. Buildings that receive certification, particularly buildings that receive the higher levels of certification in either system receive a certain amount of publicity. The amount of publicity can vary, depending on the rating and the different Green Technologies that were implemented in the building, but there are few companies that would seriously object to free advertising.

Another advantage of gaining certification is building trust and confidence in the people the company and the building are supposed to serve. Consumers are increasingly demanding that corporations get their buildings certified by LEED or Green Globes. Getting the certification from LEED or Green Globes could mean that the company could make a bigger profit overall.

In terms of profit, getting the certification is undoubtedly expensive, but it has been shown that Green Buildings do pay for themselves over time. They use less energy and water, which over times does add up. Not only that, but employees who work in buildings that have been certified by either LEED or Green Globes have been shown to be happier and more productive, which will mean more profits. Getting the certification can be considered a long-term investment that will in time, pay for itself.

Making a long-term investment in anything is a large risk and going through the process to get certification is a long process. However, it is ultimately worth it, no matter how you analyze the end result. Creating a Green Building does require a lot more hands on work and communication between the different professionals who are working on the building. It is because of this communication between the different professionals in the different fields that creates better methods of building and more efficient Green Technologies. There are new Green Technologies and innovations in building being developed at a rapid pace. As these technologies progress, both LEED and Green Globes will be able to make better rating systems. These systems and their requirements are pushing Green Building forward and are the primary reasons that the many new Green Technologies are being developed.

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Credit: Mary Peterson

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