Toward a new shade of green building

BY Ken Clark

Colorado Springs, Colorado — The casual observer of building practices has probably heard of LEED, the green building system from the US Green Building Council. But has he heard of Green Globes, the similar system from the Green Building Initiative?

GBI's Vicki L. Worden intends to use education to build the Green Globes brand, and also promote a market where various green building certification programs are able to compete, innovate and create new solutions.

Worden is executive director of the Green Building Initiative, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of building practices that result in energy-efficient, healthier and environmentally sustainable buildings.

"There's room for all of us in the marketplace," Worden said. "We really want to make sure that the market remains open."

Green Globes's penetration is growing. So far it has almost 1,000 buildings certified, 567 of which are federal buildings.

LEED continues to lead the market. "The USGBC has done a great job branding its product and baking it into government programs," she said. At least 18 municipalities have LEED-only incentives.

What's needed, she said, is competition in the marketplace driving innovation and driving creativity.

During her presentation here at the ProDealer Industry Summit, Vicki L. Worden showed a chart indicating declines in all kinds of building certifications. The slipping rate of green certifications — LEED, GBI's Green Globes and others — is credited to fatigue in the market for pursuing certification. She pointed to bureaucracy in some cases, costs in others.

Still a significant market remains. For instance, she pointed to stats showing 20% of all new U.S. commercial real estate construction pursues some form of green practices.

Trends around the industry also include what she called "the deep green movement." Among these is Net Zero Energy Building Certification — a building that is creating as much energy as the building is using. The Living Building Challenge strives for buildings to achieve not only net zero energy, but also net zero water and net zero waste. And another thing: Interest in tall wood buildings are gaining credibility. Wood has a great sustainability story to tell, she said.

"The market is much more sophisticated today than it was 10 years ago," she said.


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