About Green Globes

A Brief History
Characteristics of Green Globes
Green Globes New Construction Compared to LEED
Green Globes Technical Basis, Review and Endorsements


Green Globes is an online green building rating and certification tool that is used primarily in Canada and the USA. In Canada, there are Green Globes modules for: These modules can be used for a wide range of commercial, institutional and multi-residential building types including offices, school, hospitals, hotels, academic and industrial facilities, warehouses, laboratories, sports facilities and multi-residential buildings.

A Brief History

The genesis of Green Globes, similar to LEED and many other systems around the world was BREEAM, developed in the UK in the 1980's. Based on the 1996 CSA publication of BREEAM Canada, Green Globes for Existing Buildings was developed in 2000 by ECD Energy and Environmental Canada i. Green Globes for New Buildings Canada followed shortly thereafter, with the support of the Canadian Department of National Defense and Public Works and Government Services. In 2004, the system was adapted for the USA, where it is administered by the GBI, a Portland, OR based 501(c)3 and standards developer through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). Since then, the assessments have undergone numerous periodic updates, the most recent being the updates to New Construction and Office Fit-ups modules based on the ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings. GBI acquired the Global Rights to Green Globes in 2017. The Green Globes brand and associated rating systems are administered in the United States by GBI and in Canada by its wholly-owned, non-profit subsidiary, GB Initiative Canada.

Characteristics of Green Globes

Green Globes New Construction compared to LEED

Green Globes has been used on projects that range greatly in size, complexity and degree of innovation. However, in its early days, when it was not well known, it tended to be used for projects with limited budgets, based on the premise that the system could be done without the need for consultants to manage the certification process, and that it was therefore a more affordable certification system than LEED.

There are many studies that show that Green Globes is similar in terms of criteria with some exceptions (e.g. materials), and is competitive in terms of usability and cost. One of most often quoted studies was conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota led by Associate Professor Timothy M. Smith, who published an analysis of the two rating systems in a report titled "Green Building Systems: A Comparison of the LEED and Green Globes Systems in the U.S." (http://www.thegbi.org/gbi/Green_Building_Rating_UofM.pdf). The study provides a detailed comparison of how the systems operate as well as their respective strengths and weaknesses. There are many other studies by media and academic researchersv, industry and usersvi, and governmentsvii.

The following table highlights some of the similarities and differences of the two methodologies.

Green Globes LEED
Uses ANSI approved consensus development process Yes No
Nationally accepted program Yes Yes
Program delivery Online interactive questionnaires Online submission of templates
Total program points 1,000 110
Partial credits and recognizes that some criteria may be "not applicable" Yes Limited
Pre-requisites No Yes
Uses life cycle assessment and multiple attribute evaluations Yes No
Forest certifications accepted FSC, SFI, ATFS, CSA FSC

Green Globes Technical Basis, Review and Endorsements

Green Globes is based primarily ASHRAE and on the ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings (http://www.thegbi.org/about-gbi/ANSI-GBI-standards-document.shtml). The questionnaire format uses "plain language", which has undergone review by regional technical committees. In Canada, the Technical Committee includes members who work in academia, government departments and who are all experienced building science professionals.

Both in Canada and the US, federal governments and numerous states and provinces endorse Green Globes. The federal government in Canadaviii has been using Green Globes New Construction for more than a decade. In 2013, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) recommended Green Globes and LEED as the two certification options for federal government construction projects. This recommendation followed a review of all major certification systems, as required by the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act. In 2011, the GBI developed the Guiding Principles Compliance Program (GPC)ix to measure compliance with the Federal Guiding Principles for Sustainable Buildings as required by Executive Order 13514 signed in 2009.x

i http://www.thegbi.org/products/green-globes/history.shtml
ii "Green Globes - A Practical, Web-based Alternative to LEED". The Data Center Journal.
iii "ANSI Accredited Standards Developers". Publicaa.ansi.org.
"GBI's American National Standard for Commercial Green Building Receives Formal Approval". Buildings.com.
"GBI Launches Guiding Principles Compliance Certification Program Addressing EO 13514 Requirements for Existing Buildings - Veterans Affairs Orders 180 Third-Party Assessments - Yahoo Finance". Finance.yahoo.com. 2011-12-07.
iv http://finance.yahoo.com/news/GBI-Launches-Guiding-iw-4100678834.html (industry)
v http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118259894.index/summary
vi http://www.slma.org/pdf/factsheet1_GreenBuildingStandards.pdf http://www.awc.org/pdf/GBFactSheets/Green_Globes.pdf
vii http://www.mmo.sc.gov/MMO/webfiles/OSE_main/Presentations/LEED_vs_Green_Globes-Margaret_Jordan.pdf
viii https://www.ec.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=5F60D654-1&offset=7&toc=hide
ix http://www.edcmag.com/articles/gbi-launches-guiding-principles-compliance-certification-program- Edcmag.com. 2011-12-07.
x http://www.durabilityanddesign.com/news/?fuseaction=view&id=8653