Gas Technology: Green Globes for achievement
A building design and performance scoring program called Green Globes is increasing in awareness and approval among both architects and owners of commercial and industrial buildings.
Program Supports Environmental Goals
A building design and performance scoring program called Green Globes is increasing in awareness and approval among both architects and owners of commercial and industrial buildings. In the U.S., the Green Globes program is operated by the Green Building Initiative (GBI). In Canada, the version for existing buildings is operated by BOMA Canada under the brand name ‘BOMA BESt’, and for new buildings by ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd.
Levels of Achievement
From one to four Green Globes can be awarded to new or existing buildings based on their levels of achievement in exceeding standards for environmental sensitivity and performance. The assessment and rating system represents more than 11 years of refinement by a range of prominent international organizations and experts.
The rating of the building or building plan is based on a possible pool of 1,000 credits. GBI Commercial Building Consultant Kevin Stover explains, “The 1,000 point pool allows for weighted criteria, hence promoting the primary focus of environmental design, and minimizing point chasing while still meeting the final goal of a certain rating level.” Stover indicates that users of the online software program also have the option to use the ASHRAE 90.1 Appendix G energy design and benchmarking approach.
Useful for Industry
Manufacturers and commercial building owners look for ways that sustainable or “green” buildings can save energy, and can conserve water and other resources, while improving productivity and enhancing a company’s public image. Green Globes for new and existing buildings is a tool to help owners do all of these. A Green Globes assessment will measure how effectively existing facilities are meeting green standards, and will make recommendations for improvements. Types of buildings in this sector that have been certified using Green Globes include: manufacturing plants, fire stations, transit centers, warehouses and parking garages. This variety of building types shows the flexibility of the scoring approach.
Stover explains that the online program and the formal building assessment process are open and transparent. “The third-party assessor is directly involved with the client. Professional judgment enters into the assessment process, resulting in the most accurate and optimal final score and rating.” He adds, “Green Globes is structured around the principle that the ‘one size fits all’ approach is inadequate for a green building program, given all the nuances and variables associated with commercial buildings.”
The goal is to provide owners, builders and architects with an affordable process for assessing individual building plans or existing buildings. For U.S. companies, an online Green Globes Assessment Tool is available on a free 30-day trial basis. The owner can complete the Green Globe Assessment with payment of a moderate fee, and can make arrangements to have an assessor visit the facility or evaluate the plan and score it for an official Green Globes determination.
Rapid Feedback Essential
The program is attractive to owners because of its rapid feedback, relatively low cost, and online availability. Because plans can be assessed early in the process, it is practical to make changes or enhancements to improve the facility score. At least 25 U.S. states by law recognize the value of the program, and others are currently considering it for acceptance.
According to Sharene Rekow of the GBI, “The goal of the program is to provide early and meaningful feedback to help people have a greener building.” According to one study, Green Globes assessments result in buildings that use significantly less energy, less water, and use a higher proportion of renewable resources.
Wide Range of Factors
Rekow points out that the program encompasses site selection and development, integrated environmental design processes, selection of materials, energy performance, use of natural lighting, the building envelope, and selection of energy-efficient and renewable building components. She emphasizes that the Green Globes program recognizes that different classes of building have differing priorities. An example is that while a bicycle rack is a valuable element at a retail facility, for a building in an industrial park, it has a low priority. The facility scoring can reflect that.
Make Adjustments While Still Time
Rekow notes that the prompt preliminary scoring aspect allows owners and designers to see opportunities for improvement and make adjustments. “That’s why online access to the Assessment Tool, with its rapid feedback, is important.” Rekow mentions that another important point for industrial users of natural gas is that the assessment program, in scoring, recognizes the value of natural gas as an environmentally desirable fuel because of its typical high energy efficiency and low emission levels.
An example of a manufacturing facility that has used the program to assess and improve its performance is a building owned by RenewAire, LLC, in Madison, Wisconsin. The building includes 28,000 square feet of manufacturing space and 9,000 square feet of office space. It was formerly a sports gymnasium and was renovated to meet the needs of its current owner. RenewAire used the assessment tool to tune the building renovation to achieve a high level of environmental performance. The project received a rating of two Green Globes, which represents “Excellent progress in achieving eco-efficiency results through current best practices in energy and environmental design.”
U.S. Federal Acceptance
In the U.S., there has been widespread acceptance and use of the program by the Federal Government in many buildings such as Veterans Administration Hospitals and other facilities. The program goals mesh with the widely used “Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Buildings,” which establish goals for facility performance for Federal facilities.
The free trial offer allows architects and owners to get a preliminary snapshot of possible design priorities for both new and existing projects. The Green Globes websites offer examples of various buildings which have benefitted from the assessment and have received Green Globes awards. To learn more about the program and to get access to the 30-day free trial, go to www.greenglobes.com
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