One sustainability certification system is not the same as another, and four of them demonstrate that idea clearly. Green Globes, Energy Star, BOMA 360 and the Living Building Challenge all offer different benefits for different buildings.
Green Globes — Green Globes began as an off-shoot of England's Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) in 2002. Green Globes has been touted as a lower-cost alternative to other rating systems because users don't have to register or pay for project certification if they don't want to. They can simply use the tool as a self-assessment. The application is Web-based and is simple to navigate.
The Green Building Initiative acquired the rights to distribute and oversee the program in the United States. An organization can achieve anywhere from one to four globe level; the initiatives they target are Energy, Water, Resources, Emissions, Indoor Environment, Project Management and Site.
Energy Star — The Portfolio Manager system is an online tool to track and assess energy and water use, along with greenhouse gas emissions. Developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Energy Star challenges building owners to benchmark energy use, compared with similar buildings across the country. Energy Star has a points scale of 1 to 100. If a facility obtains a 75, meaning the building is in the 75th percentile of all buildings for energy use, the building earns an Energy Star certification. There is no fee to apply. This program is foundational for other certifications that require utility data.
BOMA 360 — The Building Owners and Managers Association International developed the program BOMA 360, which addresses sustainability as one aspect of whole building operations. The program has targeted six areas: building operations and management, life safety, security and risk management, training and education, energy, environmental/sustainability, and tenant relations/community involvement.
BOMA's research has found this program has helped property owners differentiate their sites as being effectively managed, which is key in attracting and keeping tenant-clients. There are prerequisites to applying, including a standard operating procedures manual, a preventive maintenance program, data from Energy Star Portfolio Manager, and the building's income and expense data. Hotels, residential buildings, and retail shopping centers are not eligible.
Living Buildings Challenge — Considered to be the most exacting of certifications, the goal of the Living Buildings Challenge, set by the International Living Future Institute, is to bring facilities to a net-zero waste and energy model.
An additional goal is to eliminate toxic materials from building sites; that is, materials identified in the rating system's Red List of materials and chemicals.
There are four areas of focus: Renovation, Landscape or Infrastructure, Building, and Neighborhood. Within these areas there are seven sections: Site, Water, Energy, Health, Materials, Equity, and Beauty, with different levels of designation from individual initiative petals to the highest level of Net Zero certification. Last April, the Bullitt Center in Seattle became the first building built to these standards. It uses a solar panel roof, harvests its rainwater, and reuses its waste.
Over the years, as federal, city, and state building and energy codes have incrementally gotten more stringent, the organizations responsible for building rating systems have also ramped up the standards for their voluntary rating systems, increasing the level of sustainable requirements.
A building built to LEED Platinum standards a few years ago might only achieve a Certified level now. This trend will only continue, so facility managers are well-advised to learn as much as they can as soon as they can about sustainability in general, and these credentialing programs and building rating systems specifically.
Darin Rose CFM, SFP, GGP, is facilities services manager with Kiewit and has over 20 years of experience in facilities management in the financial services, non-profit and construction industries. Along with full service construction, Kiewit offers commissioning, sustainability, and facilities management services. Rose can be reached at Darin.Rose@kiewit.com.
Pros And Cons Of Green Building Rating Systems
Certified Energy Manager Credential Is One Option For Energy-Focused Professional Sustainability Certification
Green Globes, Energy Star, BOMA 360, Living Building Challenge Offer Different Benefits For Different Buildings
USGBC Perspective: Education @USGBC To Teach Green Building Best Practices