2006-12-06, 09:29

Environmentally friendly dwellings - a trend

By: Jonathan Groner
Mixed-use developers are going to encounter "green building" issues more and more frequently as the trend toward environmentally friendly construction continues to grow. My colleagues on Womble Carlyle's Construction Law Blog, http://wombleconstruction.blogspot.com/, have provided me with the following interesting summary of a new development in this area. It follows here:

Many readers may think that LEED is the only sustainable rating system available in the U.S. market.

In fact, there are at least four other programs available: Green Globes, BREEAM (a British system), CASBEE (a Japanese system), and GBTool (an international system). Of these four, Green Globes appears to a promising up and comer in the U.S. market. Green Globes is an online building and management sustainability audit launched last year in the U.S. by the Green Building Initiative. The rating system is being vetted by the building community for its potential as either an alternative to LEED or as an adjunct to the LEED certification program.

New York Construction.com describes the system:

The Web-based Green Globes system is designed as an interactive tool with eight questionnaires covering project stages from initiation to commissioning. Within each stage, the system groups questions into seven environmental performance categories, while also supplying reports that offer suggestions to users for enhancing the sustainability of a project.

The two systems have similarities. "Green Globes allows projects to earn points, with ratings determined by the percentage of points earned. Green Globes is based on a 1,000-point scale, and users can gain one to four 'globes' for levels of certification that would be roughly equivalent to the four rating categories of LEED."

But Green Globes differentiates itself in several respects. "Green Globes . . . doesn't require project teams to produce specialized documentation, but instead relies primarily on standard construction documents and onsite verification." It also "incorporates credits for 'life cycle analysis,' a methodology of assessing long-range environmental 'costs' of a particular product by accounting for resource and energy consumption and waste accumulation, among other factors." Perhaps most intriguing, Green Globes is available as a non-certification tool that can be used to quickly assess a project.

Green Globes has already been approved as a sustainable rating system by six states.

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