Green Globes® Building Certification Program Undergoes Major Update
July 03, 2013

Green Globes®, used for the environmental assessment and certification of commercial buildings, has recently undergone revisions.  The Green Building Initiative (GBI), the administrator of the program in the U.S., announced the availability of an updated version of Green Globes for New Construction (NC), which is also used for major renovations. The recent changes to Green Globes NC are based on an ANSI standard, ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings. GBI intends this update to improve technical rigor and enhance ease of use.

Process Overview

Green Globes NC users enter design data in a web-based survey that provides a projected score. A third-party assessor is then assigned to verify the user’s responses and provide feedback to the project team throughout the design and construction process. The process includes an on-site visit by the assessor at conclusion of the construction phase to verify implementation and to gather additional information used in the final report. The GBI then issues a score based on the report. Buildings achieving a score of 35% or greater receive a rating of one to four Green Globes rating based on the percentage of total points achieved.  An optional “Pre-Design” review stage is now available as a way to provide suggested improvements to help the project team make decisions early in the design process that would cost additional time and money if made later.

Assessment Areas

Green Globes NC covers seven primary environmental assessment areas that will be familiar to sustainability professionals.  The percent point allocation for each of the seven assessment areas in Green Globes NC is shown following each: Project Management (5 percent), Site (11.5 percent), Energy (39 percent), Water (11 percent), Materials and Resources (12.5 percent), Emissions (5 percent), and Indoor Environment (16 percent).  Energy and Materials and Resources are described below in more detail.

Energy - Building energy performance usually has the greatest environmental impact and the greatest potential to reduce ongoing energy costs for the owner. The Energy assessment area in Green Globes NC is worth up to 39% of the total possible points. Users can choose one of four paths for evaluating energy performance.  These paths were built on established standards or measures and together address the broadest range of users, some of whom might otherwise be discouraged by cost or the difficulty of a single, prescriptive approach.

The four paths range from the familiar to the leading edge – Path A: ENERGY STAR® Target Finder; Path B: ASHRAE Std. 90.1-2010 Appendix G; Path C: Building Carbon Dioxide Equivalent (CO2e) Emissions (ANSI/GBI 01-2010); and Path D: ASHRAE Building Energy Quotient (bEQ).  Each path has specific requirements and maximum point thresholds that can be achieved.  Extra points are also available to reward superior energy performance. An energy white paper is available to provide detail.

Materials & Resources - The selection of sustainable products is moving away from a limited single attribute approach. With the advent of life cycle assessment and the availability of product certifications, design professionals can utilize a more comprehensive view of a product’s environmental impact. They can select materials based upon multiple attributes, such as appropriate application to building design and regional location and the anticipated building service life.  Green Globes NC provides two paths for product selection–“Path A: Performance Path” and “Path B: Prescriptive Path.”

Buildings are usually divided into two categories.  The Building Assembly which includes the core and shell, and the Interior Fit-Out which includes the interior partitions, finishes, and furnishings used within the Building Assembly. Often, the term “whole building” is used when referring to the Building Assembly; however, usage of this term can be misleading because life cycle tools available to evaluate the “whole building” usually do not include the Interior Fit-Out. Green Globes users have the ability to use either Path A or Path B to evaluate product selection for each category, providing increased flexibility as well as the opportunity for broader comparison of products being utilized. A white paper  on Materials & Resources is available to provide detail.

Added Benefit – Guiding Principles Compliance

In 2009 the White House issued Executive Order 13514  Section 2(g) of this Executive Order directs the head of each agency to implement high performance sustainable Federal building design, construction, operation and management, maintenance, and deconstruction. In 2011, the GBI introduced the Guiding Principles Compliance program to assess and certify existing buildings. The updated version of GG NC now includes the ability to assess and certify new construction against the Guiding Principles. 

Conclusion

Green Globes NC has been updated to utilize more advanced building science in order to help produce buildings with higher levels of sustainability and lower operating costs. It is suitable for a wide range of buildings from offices, multi-family structures, hospitals, and institutional buildings such as courthouses, schools, and universities. The GBI also offers Green Globes also includes programs for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings – Green Globes CIEB, and for Healthcare buildings – Green Globes CIEB for Healthcare.

Article provided by the Green Building Initiative.  For more information on Green Globes, visit their website at www.thegbi.org.