Sustainable Options: LEED™ and Green Globes™ – a Comparison – Part Three of a Three Part Series

By Tracy L. Randazzo, AIA

August 6, 2015

L-R_Miltimore_Belk_Aerial ApertureIn part one and part two we compared Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification through the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and Green Globes certification through the Green Building Initiative (GBI).  To conclude this discussion, it’s important to remember why these rating systems are used.  That they help to provide energy savings and aid us in being responsible stewards of available resources is obvious.  But how does a checklist or a formal submittal to an outside agency make this easier?

Why Use a Rating System

Some organizations try to curb costs on new buildings or renovations by skipping the Certification process.  While it is certainly not required in order to obtain a fully-operational, sustainable building that suits your needs, there are some benefits to the checks and balances LEED and Green Globes Certifications require. During design, you will be afforded common language, given by the Certification platform you chose.  You won’t simply be asking for “Energy Efficiency”.  You may instead be asking for “Energy Savings at 26% above ASHRAE 90.1 Standards” (from the LEED Scorecard). Your designer understands what this metric means and will be able to deliver to you precisely the design and systems you want; no surprises.

The quality-assurance and quality-control afforded by having a sustainability standard to follow cannot be underestimated. Comparisons will be made for value-engineering during later phases of the work, and without set metrics to hit, systems may be value-engineered (VE) to those that you would not have otherwise allowed.  The scorecards help the entire team remember why and how the design and systems got to the current level, and final VE decisions can be made considering all of the past requirements the project is trying to uphold. During construction, this continues via submittals to the designer that meet specific specified criteria to obtain Certification.

How to Choose a Rating System

When choosing a rating system, ask yourself some questions.  Who are you – what type of organization are you; what is your vision, your mission; what is your culture?  What are you – how are your current facilities designed, built, used, and operated; how are people trained to use them?  Where do you want to go – what are your sustainable goals; what are the long-term benefits of indicating compliance to your staff and customers? Where are you in the process – is this decision being made during design or during construction? Are you Innovative?  Do you want your designers to be?

Discussing your answers to these questions with your designers is the best way to come to a mutually beneficial decision about the Certification and Sustainability Goals of your project. For example, if you are making a decision in the middle of construction, Green Globes will be an easier and less costly process for you to go through; If you need the USGBC LEED plaque in the lobby to convince your particular customers you are at the top of the sustainability game, it may be one of many viable reasons to move forward with LEED Certification; If your building is being fed from a central plant using Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), you won’t meet the LEED prerequisite for Fundamental Refrigerant Management, so Green Globes is the alternative that works best.  Know who you are and what you want to achieve and the rating system that’s right for you will show itself.



  1. Beard, J: A Study of Comparative Sustainability Certification Costs/Green Rating System Cost Comparison Study
  2. Melton, P. and Roberts, T.: LEED vs. Green Globes A Definitive Analysis
  3. Roberts, T: LEED Certified or Certifiable? Architects Make the Case for Earning the Plaque

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