DOE Approves Green Globes as Alternate Certification to LEED

Originally published by: Architecture MagazineOctober 15, 2014

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Green Globes, a web-based rating program provided by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), joins LEED as an approved green building certification system for federal buildings. On Oct. 10, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a new rule, required under the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) of 2007, stating that if a federal agency chooses to use a green building certification system for a new building or major renovation, the building must adhere to the level of two Green Globes or LEED Silver.

The ruling also stipulates that federal agencies that choose not to use LEED or Green Globes "can use any appropriate, internal system to ensure that any new Federal buildings or major renovations of Federal buildings meet the requirements."

EISA 2007 requires the General Services Administration (GSA) to evaluate third-party green building certification systems and levels at least once every five years. The DOE must then use the GSA’s evaluation to review and update its recommended certification systems and criteria.

In 2008 the GSA identified the USGBC's LEED Silver as the green building certification system and level that meets the identified criteria. In 2010 the DOE issued a "sustainable design notice of proposed rulemaking" (NOPR), requesting comments on other rating systems and associated levels that also would meet the statutory criteria.

In October 2013, the GSA submitted an evaluation to the DOE recommending that federal agencies use the 2009 LEED system to obtain Silver or the 2010 Green Globes certification system to achieve two Green Globes.

Federal agencies are not required to use a green building rating system, but if they choose to do so, the DOE’s latest rule requires auditors to independently verify the system’s criteria and metrics. The rule also asserts that systems must be developed by a certification group that allows for public comment on the system and opportunities for development and revision of the system through a consensus process. The DOE made one modification to the criteria from the NOPR by requiring a verification system for post-occupancy assessment of the rated buildings to demonstrate continued energy and water savings at least every four years after initial occupancy.

Green Globes complies with these requirements because it uses independent auditors to assess its metrics and the ANSI national consensus process for developing tools for new construction and major renovations. In September, GBI created an ANSI-approved "Consensus Body" to update its 2010 national standard for commercial buildings. GBI president Jerry Yudelson, a LEED Fellow, said in a press releasethat he expects the ANSI Consensus Body to evaluate the DOE requirement for monitoring and reporting energy and water performance in federal buildings at least every four years for incorporating that requirement into the new standard "not only for federal buildings but for all buildings certified using the Green Globes green building rating system."