LIVE image

Green Globes may have come out slightly ahead in a recent “alignment” report, but support for LEED is strong in the building industry.

Atlantic Wharf, a huge mixed-use building on Boston's waterfront, is pre-certified LEED Gold and features a rain harvesting system to re-use rainwater in building systems and a green roof on the Waterfront Building.
Photo Credit: JC Cannistraro


The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), along with the Department of Defense and Department of Energy, today hosted a second “listening session” on which green building rating system it should recommend for federal government use. Public comments almost universally favored a GSA determination to continue with LEED as the government’s rating system of choice.

This rating system review is stipulated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and supported by a report from Pacific Northwest National Labs that compared LEED, Green Globes, and the Living Building Challenge. As reported in EBN, that report found that Green Globes aligned with federal guidelines slightly better than LEED for New Construction, while LEED bested Green Globes in that tally for existing buildings.

The first listening session took place in Washington, D.C., in late June; today’s happened online, where 25 speakers each got three minutes to speak. What they said was almost universally in support of LEED.

The Tally:

Pro LEED: 19

Pro Green Globes: 1

Pro Living Building Challenge: 1 (but many expressed support for it as stretch goal)

Pro random other things: 4

Do we need a green building “moon shot”?

Also Read

GSA Pledges to Pursue Zero Environmental Footprint

Green Globes Tops LEED in Federal Review, But Barely

Chemical Industry Attacks LEED; BuildingGreen Checks the Facts

Are FSC and LEED Killing American Jobs? A Look at the Facts

Richard Graves, until recently senior vice president at USGBC and now executive director of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI), kicked off the conversation with a call for a more visionary, “moon landing” approach to the choice of rating system. Several speakers who followed expressed strong support for ILFI’s Living Building Challenge, but suggested that it wasn’t appropriate as standard for all government projects.

Raving about LEED

By the end, the session felt like a LEED pep rally. Speakers from industrial giants UT Carrier and GAF endorsed LEED, as did two people from the real estate investment trust Boston Properties, Inc., who called LEED an “incredibly effective vehicle for training people.” On their recently completed LEED Gold Atlantic Wharf tower, they bragged: “Our innovations were off the charts because of our LEED certification.”

Vivian Loftness, Ph.D., of Carnegie Mellon University stood out for the way she added breadth and depth to the discussion. She and several others noted that the report comparing rating system “alignment” with federal goals lacked any metrics for the depth of infrastructure and community behind each system, a measure in which LEED is orders of magnitude above the others.

She also pointed out how effective LEED has been at promulgating government projects and standards into the private sector and at establishing the U.S. as a leader in green building standards internationally.

Stuart Kaplow, an attorney with experience in green building law and former chair of the Maryland USGBC chapter pointed out “the federal government is more than just a portfolio holder; it’s driving a larger marketplace.”

And Lois Vitt Sale of Wight & Company said: “LEED is more than just a plaque at the end of the road. We consider it a quality assurance process and use it even when the project is not pursuing LEED.”

Paula Vaughan of Perkins+Will and Jim Newman of Linnean Solutions, among others, made the case that LEED is the better choice because it will drive innovation. Vaughan cited the recent Chicago Tribune series on toxic flame retardants as evidence of the need for more progressive rating systems, while Newman called innovation “The essence of American industrial strength.”

And railing about other things

Of the few comments that were not glowing endorsements of LEED, Michael O’Brien, a mechanical engineer with Heery International expressed a preference for Green Globes for its “lower cost, speed of certification, and lack of prerequisites.”

And the random other votes? One argued that ground-source heat pumps should be considered renewable energy sources, and two—a lawn care labor association and power equipment trade association—complained about the 40% limit on lawn area in ASHRAE Standard 189.1. There are a few in every crowd…

If you enjoyed this article, sign up for BuildingGreen email updates

*

Comments

1 Great review posted by Jim Newman on 07/12/2012 at 09:34 am

Thanks Nadav

This is a great run down of the call. You might also add a review of the in-person listening session, which had a somewhat different flavor.

It was great to hear the support for building product transparency. I was glad that the DSA, DOD, and DOE representatives got to hear that said so clearly.


— Share This Posting!

Recent Discussions

posted by bates.paul
on Apr 9, 2015

Hi-

I reviewed your story on "...

posted by granda
on Apr 8, 2015

Hi Alex,
I've been following your experience with the Zehnder unit with interest. By the way, my understanding is that Barry Stephens is...

posted by joetmail
on Apr 4, 2015

Thanks Alex. Replacing the siding is really not an option. Without the opportunity to create a drainage plane I shy away from spray foam in...

Recent Comments


EPA Raises Health Concerns with Spray Foam Insulation

Paula Melton says, "Karla, thanks for your questions. I spoke to our building science expert here, and he had the following thoughts: 1. About opening your windows:..." More...

Karla Tuberville says, "We are a new home owner with the foam insulation. I have many concerns we were not told about before being put in, we live in Texas lots of humidity..." More...


Using Your Heating System to Heat Water

norm palmer says, "thanks Alex...I guess I will consider the propane fired unit when I finally can afford a propane power generator for power outages, as that is when I..." More...

Alex Wilson says, "Norm, I'll let Adam comment on the parallel vs. series plumbing. As a mechanical engineer, he knows far more about that than I. But regarding an..." More...

norm palmer says, "I am suffering form some confusion over series or parallel plumbing in previous posts..if you hav a moment could you enlighten me please? thnx" More...