As a LEED accredited professional for the past 10 years I have worked within the tight and narrow structure of the LEED process. As a Green Globes professional for the same 10 years, I have designed and assessed buildings using the Green Globes on-line survey system. Using both the LEED and Green Globes processes, I have observed the following:
Both rating systems serve an important role in assuring environmental and energy efficient practices are in place. Building owners all over the nation are using both the Green Globes rating system, and the LEED system for new construction as well as for existing buildings. The USGBC LEED and the GBI Green Globes are evolving green building rating systems, both emphasizing: energy, water, resource efficiency, site ecology, indoor air quality and pollution.
That said, noteworthy differences in process and content still remain:
The Green Globes on-line survey is consistent from predesign all the way to commissioning and is a useful resource for connecting the project team in such a way that truly promotes integrated design. For many organizations, Green Globes is an avenue that provides new awareness for the seasoned professionals, and encourages opportunities for alternative solutions to design, build and operate all buildings within the organization.
New Construction in urban settings have many green initiatives as a given such as: site selection, community connectivity, alternative transportation, storm water quantity and quality control, as well as many opportunities for innovation in design. Property owners are able to use Green Globes to measure sustainability currently, and as part of a plan to build more efficiently for the future. Green Globes can also serve as a key component in establishing new guidelines and policies for all construction projects going forward.
Green Globes is web-based, easy to use, verified and assessed by a 3rd party, and is gaining ground; thanks in part to growing mainstream interest in sustainability, and a lower cost of entry than LEED.
LEED involves a more complex, time consuming, and thus, more financially expensive process that can require intense documentation of the obvious. However, LEED is well-entrenched and enjoys strong brand recognition in the USA.
In conclusion, both LEED and Green Globes include a common set of design elements that contribute to the improvement of a building’s green performance. With the adoption of building practices that result in greater energy-efficiency, a healthier built environment, and the use of more sustainable materials, both programs promote credible and practical green building approaches for residential and commercial construction. Both LEED and Green Globes envision a future in which energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally conscious construction is the norm instead of the exception.
-Barbara AW Clarke, AIA, Director of Sustainability, JL Architects