Competition Comes To The Green Building Ratings Arena

By Scott Kriner, Green Metal Consulting

The 800-pound gorilla will be sharing a cage that we call sustainability. For several years the American High Performance Building Coalition (AHPBC) was advocating change in public policy where there was only one green building certification program required for public building construction. For the most part, the sole green building rating system was the USGBC’s LEED building certification program. The AHPBC was promoting choice on the part of local, regional and national green programs. In addition, the AHPBC was suggesting that green building rating programs should be based on solid science and a consensus approach to the development of the credits.  Those suggested requirements of the GBI basically excluded the LEED rating system since it is neither consensus-based – nor are all of its credits based on sound science.

The advocacy effort also reached out to the Federal government. In particular, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) was repeatedly approached by AHPBC to point out that there should be an alternate to LEED which, at the time, was the GSA’s only green building rating program. It was a long shot on the part of the AHPBC, but GSA did investigate other programs and kept an open mind. The persistence and the information shared by AHPBC was successful in making a significant change to the GSA with regard to their building certifications.

Just a few months ago, the Green Building Initiative (GBI) announced that the GSA’s Green Globes green building program was now an allowable certification program for use in the GSA’s federal leasing activities – which represents a significant number of properties. GSA now recognizes Green Globes for New Construction as an option for new construction leased spaces where green building certification is required for a building over 10,000 square feet. In addition, Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors can now be used as an option to LEED for tenant improvements within the GSA portfolio.

The GSA Office of Leasing is a growing segment of the GSA’s work within the federal government. The office now oversees 51% of the total federal government portfolio.

To date, the GBI has certified 592 federal buildings through Green Globes and its Guiding Principles Compliance program tailored for federal agencies. Those agencies include the DOE, Dept. of Veterans, NASA, National Institutes of Health, Dept. of State, US Navy, US Forest Service and the US Farm Services. The new leasing guidelines went into effect immediately in November.

Meanwhile GBI continues with their ANSI Standard update of the Green Globes program. That work should be completed and reviewed by the Consensus Committee in 2017. Several people in the metal construction industry have been involved in the ANSI Standard update. The ANSI process being used by GBI is a stark contrast to how LEED is updated. And yet LEED remains the proverbial 800-pound gorilla in the corner.

Scott Kriner is the president and founder of Green Metal Consulting Inc. He is a LEED Accredited Professional who began his career in the metal construction industry in 1981. His company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council, the California Association of Building Energy Consultants and the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET).

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