One of the things I learned doing our latest industry sustainability benchmark (on the medical equipment industry), was that there is a compelling alternative to LEED as a green building standard in North America.
Many of the leading manufacturers of medical equipment have certified one or more of their buildings using the LEED system. Medtronic is among those that have used LEED. But it also piloted another standard, called Green Globes, and it liked it so much it will be using the system again for new and existing construction.
Green Globes, developed and promoted by The Green Building Initiative (GBI), is a LEED competitor. The GBI says the Green Globes certification criteria overlap with LEED criteria by about 90%. Medtronic itself identified an 85 percent overlap in its initial Green Globes pilot.
They key advantagesof Green Globe: reduced time and reduced cost. GBI and Medtronic both say the cost of obtaining a Green Globes certification is significantly lower than for LEED. GBI says it’s 30 percent of the cost of LEED certification. And it’s much less time consuming. Rather than painstakingly compiling documentation, submitting to the U.S. Green Building Council and waiting for a verdict on certification, Green Globes provides an online interactive tool that captures key information and guides users through the process, showing you in real time how you are scoring and suggesting opportunities to improve your rating. When you are ready, GBI sends a certified Green Globes auditor to walk through your facility, check your work, and sign off on your certification.
LEED supporters could make the case that it may be easier to falsify information using the Green Globes approach than the LEED approach. But if a building owner is really interested in improving operational efficiency, they’d have little reason to do so.
Green Globes has already been used to certify hundreds of buildings in the government, commercial, residential and hospital sectors, and has been recognized as a green building standard by 22 states so far, according to GBI. Nonetheless, it doesn’t have anywhere near the name recognition as LEED does, and that fact will doubtless be crucial in some projects.
In the way that Green Globes is challenging LEED I see a parallel with how web-based software changed traditional enterprise software. The only way to acquire enterprise software used to be to install costly packaged software and undergo the time and expense of implementing and integrating it on site. Web-based hosted alternatives disrupted this model, lowering costs and speeding implementations. This feels like what is happening with Green Globes.
I think there is room for another standard here. What do you think?