Green Globes

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There is a great deal of interest in construction projects and buildings that are ‘green’ and environmentally friendly. The idea and market for green buildings has been growing rapidly. To monitor and assess these green buildings in Canada, a rating and assessment system called Green Globes was established.


History of Green Globes

The Green Globes system emerged from more than eleven years of research with inputs from a range of experts and international organisations.

The origin of the Green Globes system lies in the Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method (BREEM) which was published in 1996 by the Canadian Standards Association. In the year 2000, the system became an online assessment and rating tool under the name Green Globes for Existing Buildings. In the same year efforts to develop the system for the Design of New Buildings also began.

About Green Globes Today

Today Green Globes is used in Canada and the United States. In Canada, the Green Globes version for Existing Buildings is owned and operated by BOMA (Building Owners and Managers Association of Canada) under the brand name ‘Go Green’. All other Green Globes products are owned and operated by ECD Energy and Environment Canada.

In the United States, the Green Building Initiative (GBI) owns the license to promote and develop Green Globe. In 2005 GBI became the first green building organisations to be accredited as a standards developer by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

The Green Globes Certification System

The Green Globes program is an online system that is based on a questionnaire. A report based on the questionnaire is automatically generated which provides the Green Globes rating, achievements and also recommendations. The certification is achieved through a third-party verification undertaken by regional verifiers. The Green Globes system is applicable to all types of buildings of any size including small and large office buildings, multifamily housing structures, schools, universities and libraries. The Green Globes system has assessment tools for:

  • Design for New Buildings or Retrofits: The online assessment tool for new buildings or retrofits/significant renovations consists of roughly 150 questions and takes about 2-3 hours to answer. The report generated provides results on the basis of percentage eco ratings for (a) project management (b) site (c) energy (d) water (e) resources (f) emissions (g) effluents and other impacts (h) indoor environment. The report also indicates highlights of the design, suggestions for improvement to the design and hyper links to information on building systems and management. The system awards 1,000 points across seven credit categories- project management (50), site (115), energy (380), water (85), resources (100), emissions (70), and indoor environment (200). Projects that earn 35% of the 1,000 points receive one globe, 55%, 70%, and 85% receive two, three, and four globes, respectively.
  • Management and Operations of existing buildings: The Green Globes for existing buildings is a tool meant for owners and managers of property to assess the environmental performance of their buildings. The Green Globe Continual Improvement Assessment for Existing Buildings was launched in the United States in December 2006. This tool helps assess the continued performance of an existing building and to assist to make the building more efficient. It is based on similar criteria and rating points as those of new buildings.
  • Green Globes Building Emergency Management Assessment (BEMA): This tool enables building owners and managers to evaluate the management of the building in response to emergencies, disasters and incidents of all kinds. Depending on the risk profile of the building being assessed, questions are asked for assessment. Risk management needs to encompass mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery from an emergency. Green Globes BEMA will also provide suggestions to improve the emergency management system of the building but also includes a module on public relations during an emergency.
  • Building Intelligence: The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) has used the Green Globes system to power their ‘building intelligence tool’ called Building Intelligence Quotient (BIQ). This tool allows for the measurement and evaluation of intelligent building performance. It also has a design guide for integrating building intelligence in new projects and an action plan for retrofit building automation.
  • Fit-Up: The Green globes Fit-Up program is designed for guidance and assessment in the field of commercial interiors. The criteria are similar to those for new buildings; however the aim here is to integrate green design principles in new or existing commercial interiors.

Green Globes vs. LEED Green Building Rating System

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Green Globes system as opposed to another building certification program, namely, LEED Green Building Rating System. Firstly, it is important to bear in mind, that there are a great deal of similarities between both the initiatives, largely because they share common roots, and also because they share common ideas of green buildings. However, there are some differences that are highlighted below:

  • The Green Globes methodology is an on-line (web based) user-friendly self assessment tool. The LEED program is also an on-line process.
  • The costs associated with the LEED program are considerable higher than those of the Green Globes program.
  • The LEED assessment system process can take up to four months to complete whereas the Green Globe program is much more efficient in terms of time.
  • The LEED assessment system has certain pre-requisites for certification. Certain actions, which are pre-requisites for LEED, earn points towards certification in the Green Globe system, where there are no pre-requisites. This has led to the criticism that there is relative ease in attaining the bottom rung of the Green Globe program.
  • Both LEED and Green Globes do not sufficiently address the issue of life cycle assessment of the building product system. However, Green Globes is slightly better off in this respect as it introduces designers to life cycle assessment tools. LEED does not address life cycle assessment.
  • The LEED is targeted to the top 25% of the market, whereas Green Globes is designed for wide spread appeal.
  • Green Globes is viewed with suspicion by environmentalists as the program enjoys support from vinyl, chemical and wood industries. On the other hand, LEED is criticised for ignoring industry concerns, and until recently, trade associations were not allowed to be members of LEED.
  • LEED enjoys good brand recognition, and is slowly gaining international support. Green Globes is still relatively unknown.

The competition between these two programs is considered to be beneficial – it will inspire both initiatives, and lead to improvements all around. For example, LEED is planning on expanding a paperless system. Green Globes is also planning a revision to make the assessment system more layered than the simple yes/no questionnaire at the moment.

See Also

Green Building
LEED Green Building Rating System
Energy Star


  • About Green Globes
  • LEED vs Green Globes
  • Green Globes Design for New Construction and Retrofits
  • Pressure on LEED
  • The Green Giant
  • A comparison of the LEED and Green Globes Systems in the US