The Green Building Initiative (“GBI”) made an interesting announcement today with respect to its Green Globes green building rating system. GBI will now offer the use of Green Globes for free to GBI member firms. Unlimited use of the system is available for a membership cost of $2,500/year. A $500 membership provides access to the system for one project, while $1,500 nets three.
As I’ve described it previously, Green Globes is web-based rating tool that evaluates buildings on a 1,000 point scale across similar credit categories as LEED. It’s generally less expensive than LEED, and many in the industry recommend its use on smaller projects. The system allows a project team to receive real-time feedback about the likely number of points that the proposed design will receive- along with recommendations for increased performance- from any location with an Internet connection. While Green Globes will now provide this initial web-based assessment for free for GBI members, third-party verification (which allows a project to call itself a recipient of however many Green Globes) is not included- this additional cost is approximately $4,000 to $5,000 per project.
Competition between green building rating systems is a good thing. As GBI points out, there are eighty-one million buildings in the United States and it would be foolish to assume that any one particular system could possibly work for every single project. I’m curious to see whether USGBC responds to this announcement by reducing LEED certification costs in some way. (Though on January 1, 2007, USGBC announced that it would refund the certification fees of any project that achieved LEED Platinum, as well as provide free registration under LEED for Existing Buildings for projects already certified under LEED for New Construction or LEED for Core and Shell).