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LEED vs Green Globes

LEED and the Green Globes System are competing environmental assessment methodologies that score buildings and award a raking. These green building rating systems consist of a large set of questions relating to water efficiency, energy usage, construction materials, indoor air quality and the building site. Questions have different scoring weights and the points awarded may have little to do with the difficulty in achieving them -- therefore these systems are subject to manipulation and optimization by the builder.

Despite the potential to become little more than a marketing tool like ENERGY STAR (at one point 95% of all dishwashers qualified and flat screen TV's were only tested when powered off (standby)), these systems do force builders to think about buildings as systems and to consider the entire lifecycle. Issues like the choice of building materials, disposal of construction waste, site drainage, pest management etc. are normally considered only from the perspective of cost so any system that encourages good corporate behavior in return for a marketing advantage is good.

There is considerable overlap in these methodologies (around 80%) which is to be expected. While both promote sustainability and achieve similar rankings, they emphasize different areas of sustainability and have their own strengths and flaws.

There is a move underway to incorporate environmental assessment rating systems into federal and state law so that new government buildings would have to meet a minimum certification standard, perhaps two globes or LEED silver. This is an excellent idea if implemented in an "agnostic" way; i.e. demanding new construction to be in basic compliance with any credible and accepted green building standard. It is a bad idea if proprietary methods are enshrined into law to the exclusion of others for the benefit of industry groups that lobby government.

A good analogy would be lobbying to enact laws to have the weight watchers points system mandatory on the menus of all school lunch programs under the guise of improving student health when the real motive was having a captive market for selling food rating consulting services and the forced licensure of the trademark to school lunch suppliers.

The ideal system would be open standards based, easy to use and inexpensive. The USGBC is actively lobbying state legislatures to adopt LEED and exclude competing systems. Meanwhile Green Globe is gaining international support, is inexpensive, easy to use and is becoming an ANSI standard.

Here are some relevant links:

Green Globes is maintained by the Green Building Initiative

LEED is maintained by the U.S. Green Building Council

The University of Minnesota study A COMPARISON OF THE LEED AND

Both LEED and Green Globes were derived from BREEAM Building Research Establishment Environmental Access Method.

Green Globe Ratings (descriptions are from GBI)

LEED Ratings

BREEAM Ratings