Green Globes – the little green building rating system that could…

Jiri Skopek  AA Dip., OAA, MCIP, RIBA

Green certifications help to ensure that buildings are energy and resource efficient, achieve operational efficiencies and savings, and are healthier to work or live in. Whereas LEED has been the platform for “leadership” in green buildings, another lesser-known system, called Green Globes, has, since its inception a decade ago, aimed to bring green buildings into the mainstream by offering an affordable, user-friendly system. Now that green buildings are no longer just limited to “leaders” but are generally considered mainstream, the need for an affordable approach, transparency and benchmarking is greater than ever. And while Green Globes may not be as well-known as LEED, it has demonstrated that it is “the little green building rating system that could”.

December 2013 marks the launch of the updated Green Globes for New Construction, which is largely based on the ANSI/GBI 01-2010 standard. Improved energy modelling, life cycle assessments and product environmental performance declarations (EPDs) are just a few of the tools that are available to the building industry. With these advances, Green Globes for New Construction Version 2 puts greater emphasis on quantifiable criteria. Version 2 also includes innovation criteria, which, similarly to the Living Building Challenge, focus on positive contributions of the building to the environment rather than just reduction of its environmental impact. And yet, notwithstanding the updates, Green Globes is still as user-friendly and affordable as ever.

Green Globes differs from other systems primarily with respect to its streamlined format and submission requirements. The assessment is in the format of an online questionnaire that produces automated reporting.  Submission requirements consist of actual working documents, most of which are normally produced in the course of doing any green project.  For example, the required documentation for a new construction project would include the actual drawings and specifications, modelling studies, records of integrated design sessions and evidence of required studies and plans such an Acoustic Plan, an Erosion Control Plan, a Commissioning Plans and so forth.  Because there are no additional requirements other than documents which should normally be produced anyway, this greatly reduces the time and cost of producing a submission.

Green Globes for New Construction and Significant Renovation, in addition to being a rating and certification tool also helps design teams address integrated green design principles. This is done through (optional) plain-language questionnaires, which are designed to facilitate discussion at the goal setting and concept design stages. Since ninety percent of design decisions are typically made during the first ten percent of the design process, using this integrated approach can help to ensure that sustainability goals are established before design decisions have been made, and that these are monitored throughout each stage of the project.

Today, the Green Globes system is used by large developers and property management companies, including, the Canadian federal government, which has adopted the program for its entire real estate portfolio.

In Canada, the version for existing buildings is operated by BOMA Canada under the brand name ‘BOMA BESt’. All other Green Globes products in Canada are owned and operated by ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd.

A large part of the Green Globes success is its simplicity.  Because it provides an all-in-one self-assessment, reporting tool and integrated design guide, this makes it possible to develop and assess sustainable designs in-house at a fraction of the time and cost of other assessment methodologies.

Jiri Skopek, Managing Director, Sustainability with ECD Jones Lang LaSalle, is an architect and planner with over 30 years of experience in sustainable development. He is best known for developing the suite of Green Globes environmental assessment tools.  




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