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The Green Globes Difference

THOUGH LEED HAS ESTABLISHED ITSELF as the primary green building standard, an upstart, Green Globes, is gaining traction as an alternative to LEED.

Green Globes certification, introduced in 2004 by the non-profit Green Building Initiative (GBI), Portland, Ore., has been earned by 183 buildings. The only food retailer to obtain Green Globes certification is Whole Foods Market, Austin, Texas, which has achieved the designation for about 12 new stores during the past few years, according to GBI. Whole Foods has also obtained LEED certification for a number of stores, including one in Lake Grove, N.Y., that has both certification types.

“Whole Foods has elected to use Green Globes because it is an effective tool that's also user-friendly and affordable,” said Mike Kramer, construction coordinator for the chain's Rocky Mountain Region, in a statement released last year by GBI. “We've introduced Green Globes to our design and construction teams and plan to use this system on most projects moving forward, including new and existing buildings.”

Green Globes has much in common with LEED, including four certification levels (one through four Globes) and a numeric rating system (up to 1,000 points vs. 110 for LEED). Like LEED, Green Globes offers certification for new and existing buildings. “Ninety-five percent of what LEED asks for, we ask for,” said Sharene Rekow, vice president, marketing/sales/membership for GBI.

However, Green Globes differs in significant ways from LEED as well. Green Globes claims to be faster and more affordable than LEED, has no prerequisites, and its online application tool allows applicants “to know where they stand at any moment,” said Rekow. In addition, Green Globes gives “partial credit” and allows applicants to drop up to 100 points of non-applicable green features, improving their chances of meeting the percentage thresholds.

As part of the process, GBI sends an assessor to a site to do an audit, suggest how to achieve different levels of certification, and provide “professional judgment” on whether a green feature qualifies for points, said Kevin Stover, a facilities consultant for GBI.

For projects under 100,000 square feet, the Green Globes certification process, which includes license, documentation and assessor fees, costs about $6,500 for an existing building, and $9,000 for a new building. Rekow noted that Green Globes incorporates consulting into the process, saving applicants money, while LEED does not.

Green Globes uses the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star program, which includes supermarkets, in awarding energy performance credits, noted Stover. Another food retail-related feature is that points can be obtained for using refrigerant leak detectors and managing the use of ozone-depleting refrigerants.

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