The Green Building Council’s Leadership LEED system is no longer the only program the General Services Administration (GSA) endorses for federal building construction and renovation; now there is Green Globes.
The Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes has received a recommendation from the GSA during a scheduled review of the building certification system. Government construction is no longer confined to a single certification – news that is riling company CEOs and environmentalists alike.
The GSA recommends new or renovated buildings gain a LEED silver ranking or two Green Globes with a focus on water and energy categories. While gold LEED was once standard, the GSA does not believe that this downgrade in required certification should dissuade construction projects from fulfilling higher requirements in both programs.
The nod by the GSA for Green Globes does not mean that the agency will be requiring dual certification. A single certification from LEED or Green Globes will be acceptable. The GSA stated that construction managers should look into both programs and decide which certification would be most beneficial for the building type and location.
This was a blow to Green Globes supporters who have been vying for the stringent LEED program to be dismantled. Supporters of Green Globes have been fighting for years to get more options for construction certification. LEED’s monopoly has been cited as not providing adequate guidelines for the wide array of government buildings that need to conform to LEED certification under GSA guidelines.
While the Green Building Initiative hasn’t overthrown LEED, they do believe that the secondary certification will ease the bottlenecking of government construction. Green Globes supporters believe that the emergence of a second recommended certification will also allow government buildings to be fixed and built more efficiently. Canada has previously endorsed Green Globes, and currently uses its certification for their own government buildings.
The endorsement of Green Globes is not without controversy. Green Globes is an industry supported group and its list of members and supporters is a who’s who of the plastics and lumber industry. It is run out of the offices of its recently former president, Ward Hubbell, a PR whiz who describes his job as delivering “successful outcomes for clients who are seeking to influence public policy”. Critics of Green Globes believe it is simply a front by leaders in construction materials to decrease green standards through public policy.
The detractors have teeth. Green Globes is cited by environmentalists as being a watered down version of LEED that decreases positive environmental building practices and benefits the construction industry. Compared to LEED, Green Globes certification allows a greater use of plastics in design and is using a lower quality lumber for construction. The lax standards of Green Globes have caused many to worry that this step back for environmentally friendly government buildings will have a negative effect on the environment and any future attempts to strengthen green initiatives.
While the endorsement of Green Globes can be seen as a benefit or a drawback, the fact remains that it will now be a viable alternative for government construction and renovation. Moving forward, the GSA has promised to shorten its five year window for evaluating current and new certification programs for recommendations. At least this promise should elicit a sigh of relief from environmentalists.
Ken Myers is a father, husband, and entrepreneur. He has combined his passion for helping families find in-home care with his experience to build a business. Learn more about him by visiting @KenneyMyers on Twitter.