If you’re going to spend the necessary money in making sure the process of constructing a new building is environmentally friendly, you might as well get the most for your dollar by using the Green Globes ratings system.

That was the message from Erin Shaffer, the vice president of the Portland, Ore.-based non-profit Green Building Initiative (GBI), in offering her company’s web-based green certification system as a viable and more affordable alternative to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) systems during Tuesday’s 90-minute webinar, “Western Region 2013 Vital Lunch and Learn.”

The long-range implications appear to be catching on within a federal government determined to trim costs while making its buildings more energy efficient in upcoming years.

“The Green Globes system focuses on energy performance and a whole building’s life cycle to help deliver a sustainable building,” Shaffer said. “If an owner is going to spend a lot of time and money on a building, he ought to get something out of it.”

LEED, which just last month unveiled its LEED v4, was the first American system to reward companies for reducing their environmental footprint during construction after third-party verification. The Green Globes system, however, takes things a step further with its added emphasis on energy use and more efficient integration of a building’s Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) that provides a comprehensive and quantified look at product environmental impacts, according to a recent study by the University of Minnesota.

Shaffer also noted that the 1,000-point Green Globes System, which was first introduced to the U.S. market in late 2004, is not only easily accessible on the Internet and transparent, but that it also treats projects independently depending on their unique climates or heights, and offers partial credit with documentation.

There are roughly 800 American buildings that are currently Green Globes-certified, Shaffer said, with the possibility of more to come. A recent General Services Administration (GSA) study sent to the Department of Energy concluded that both Green Globes and LEED ratings systems were suitable for federal buildings, marking the first time that the Green Globes system had been so duly noted. Additionally, the Department of Defense likewise recognized both green ratings systems for the first time early last month, Shaffer said.

“That’s very significant,” she said, adding that the Green Globes system is “more in line with federal standards because it focuses on the performance of buildings.”

Other federal agencies now using the Green Globes system include the GSA, NASA and the Departments of State, Interior, Agriculture and Veterans Affairs, Shaffer said.

The Green Globes ratings system lists seven areas of assessment: management, site, energy, water, resources, emissions and hazardous materials and indoor environment. The energy component, which is the site of the most opportunity to accrue green points, stresses better energy performance in new buildings and improving energy management and energy efficiency features in existing ones.

Shaffer said the more systems to help in the design of more environmentally friendly buildings the better, but added the Green Globes system offers the most bang for the buck.

“Green Globes is cost-effective and user-friendly,” she said, “and has a significant focus on energy design/energy performance, as well as water-use reduction. And it incorporates life cycle assessment throughout the process.”

GBI, which has customer service teams available to assist project teams in the use of Green Globes, updated its new construction/major renovation Green Globes requirements in June so that they now incorporate American National Standards Institute guidelines.

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