U.S. GSA approves Green Globes as an alternative to LEED

A letter from the U.S. General Services Administration on 25 October 2013 has leveled the playing field for rating systems in the U.S. The letter, addressed to the Secretary of Energy makes six new recommendations for the Federal government's use of green building certification systems. The recommendations were developed after an evaluation of existing systems carried out by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), and were followed by input from advisory groups.

In brief, the recommendations include the following:

1. Agencies should continue to use third-party certification systems;

2. Agencies should choose between two certification systems, namely LEED 2009 or Green Globes 2010;

3. Agencies should use credits that align with Federal requirements;

4. Agencies should select only one system on an agency, Bureau or portfolio basis;

5. GSA should establish a process to keep current with revisions to the rating systems;

6. The Federal Government should participate in the on-going development of green building rating systems.

These recommendations, quite clear in their intent and phrasing, create a new situation in the U.S. by allowing a choice for Federal agencies for the first time. Part of the shift is almost certainly due to the fact that Green Globes (operated by GBI) underwent a consensus-based ANSI (American National Standards Institute) process. The other factor is the lower cost of using Green Globes, which is web-based.