Green Building Rating Systems: LEED, Green Globes, and Energy Star
Those buildings that attempt to reduce their energy consumption and environmental impact are often referred to as “green buildings”. Green building certification programs not only recognize a building’s sustainable initiatives, it also provides guidance to further improve the indoor air quality, encourage regional and sustainable material selection, and reduce water and energy consumption. The three main certification programs are described below:
The most widely used green building certification program is the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design® (LEED) Green Building Rating System™. The first version of LEED was developed March 2000 while the most recent version, v3.0, was developed early 2009. This version not only increased the point structure, it also awards more credit points to buildings dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint and energy consumption. Currently, the LEED rating system includes certification for Homes, Commercial Interiors, Core & Shell, Commercial New Construction, K-12 Schools, Healthcare, Retail, Operations, and Neighborhood Development. Certification of buildings is based on a point structure of 0-110, where buildings are awarded a label of Certified (40-49), Silver (50-69), Gold (70-79), or Platinum (80-110), in addition to meeting several prerequisites.
This certification program can also be applied to new and existing commercial buildings, retrofits, and operations and management practices. Similar to LEED, a building’s design is assessed based on topics such as Energy, Water, Site, and Indoor Environment. The certification program uses a 1,000 point system where buildings are awarded either one, two, three, or four “globes”. Three main differences between Green Globes and LEED are: (1) Green Globes does not require the analysis of a proposed and baseline energy model, (2) Green Globes includes life cycle assessment of building materials, and (3) Green Globes does not require prerequisites.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR program, awards existing commercial buildings and facilities which are 75% better than the national average for that specific building type. This program requires owners to track their building’s energy consumption on a monthly basis through an online tracking tool called Portfolio Manager. Those buildings which verified their score by a professional engineer or registered architect and scored between 75 and 100 will receive an ENERGY STAR label. If the building receives a score less than 75, ENERGY STAR provides owners suggestions to further reduce their energy consumption.
Green Globes: http://www.thegbi.org/commercial/?
ENERGY STAR: http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=business.bus_bldgs