Tuesday, February 25, 2014

An Alternative to LEED: Green Globes

By: Allison Smith

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating systems have brought objective standards to the understanding of sustainable and regenerative design projects. But as the leading rating system in the US market, it’s easy to forget that LEED isn’t the only tool to create effective sustainable and regenerative designs, and “going for LEED” isn’t the only way to be “green”. Green Globes is increasingly in the news lately with support from the Government Services Association (GSA) and the change in Green Globes’ leadership: Jerry Yudelson.

Green Globes is an evolution of the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) the international leader in sustainable building certification and the standard for all new UK non-residential buildings. Green Globes was established in 2004 and is administered by the Green Building Initiative (GBI) in the U.S. and Building Owners & Managers Association (BOMA) in Canada.

Complaints of the LEED rating system range from cost to bureaucratic headaches to lack of flexibility to frustrations with LEED online, their online documentation and submittal submission format. Any LEED practitioner will admit the certification program is far from perfect, but still laud the system for promoting sustainable building and encouraging a whole systems approach to design. The US Federal Government, as well as many state and local governments, require sustainable building certification and since most people are only familiar with LEED they believe that is the only option. On the contrary, the GSA recommends either LEED or Green Globes for federal projects based on a recent research project studying the robustness of both rating systems. Many states and local governments allow other sustainable building certifications than LEED, however confirm the requirements of the presiding legislation.

Advantages to the Green Globes rating system are that there are no prerequisites, partial credit is allowed, there is flexibility for non-applicable criteria, it incorporates an ANSI-Accredited Standards Developing Organization (ANSI-GBI)Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA), and certification hinges on a third-party on-site assessment. A Green Globes project is assessed on a 1000-point scale, however, since some credits can be marked “non-applicable,” projects typically are assessed on fewer points. The program has four certification levels, similar to LEED, but is based on the percentage of points granted as opposed to points available. Furthermore, when evaluating a project’s energy performance, Green Globes uses regional performance data as the benchmark, rather than LEED’s use of a hypothetical building model.
Perhaps most exciting is the inclusion of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) process, an assessment that LEED lacks. LCA’s are a research-based evaluation of cradle-to-grave resource use and environmental impacts of materials, systems, and buildings.  Green Globes allows a prescriptive or performance path option for meeting this requirement. The prescriptive path is based on Environmental Product Declarations, third-party certifications, and upon ISO 14040 and 14044 Standards.  To meet the performance path, design teams use Athena Impact Estimator for Buildings software to compare alternate design scenarios. LCA’s are a foundation for sustainable building, yet this assessment remains excluded from LEED v4.

Criticism of Green Globes range from a perception of not being rigorous enough, a perception of Forest Certification bias, industry representation on the GBI board, and no required minimum performance. Furthermore, Green Globes certification criteria is not as transparent as LEED’s criteria.

A quick count of sustainable rating systems in the US returns a list of six alternates to LEED. When starting your next project, evaluate Green Globes and the other applicable sustainable buildings systems to select the one that best aligns with the projects’ goals and principles. LEED has its place in sustainable building certification systems, however keep in mind that it’s not the only option.

Now through April 15, GBI is offering “Green Globes Professional Training”, an online self-paced course for free. Completion of the course can count towards American Institute of Architects (AIA) Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Though Green Globes does not offer professional accreditation, this is an opportunity to learn more about Green Globes certification.

Bibliography and citations:

Kibert, C. J. Switching from LEED to Green Globes: A User’s Perspective (PDF).  Green Building Initiative. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from http://www.thegbi.org/assets/pdfs/Switching-from-LEED.pdf
Green Building Initiative. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from http://www.thegbi.org/
LEED User. Retrieved February 7, 2014 from http://www.leeduser.com/

Photo credit:
Life Cycle Assessment: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_Cycle_Assessment
Green Globes icon: http://www.thegbi.org/

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sustainable Building Associate Job Opening

The Institute for the Build Environment is now looking to hire a new member to our team. Please read the following job description:
Sustainable Building Associate
Job Description
The Institute for the Built Environment (IBE) is housed within the College of Health and Human Sciences at Colorado State University (CSU). IBE is an interdisciplinary group of faculty, students and staff who focus on sustainability and quality of the built environment. Our paid internship program offers experiential education and practical knowledge for students who aspire to be leading professionals in the design, development, and construction fields. Students are supported and mentored by senior institute staff and provide professional work products for our clients.

The Sustainable Building Associate performs tasks related to project management, integrated design, and LEED coordination and certification through a variety of research and professional projects. Associate internships typically start at 5-10 hours per week with the potential for additional hours as project work allows. 

Primary Duties
  • Assist with green building and LEED administration consulting services, including:
    • charrette participation and reports
    • specification and drawing reviews
    • green products and materials research
    • client relations/communications
    • project management
    • general contractor support and education
    • managing LEED certification documentation
  • Contribute to IBE blog posts and quarterly newsletter

  • Excellent communication and writing skills
  • Strong ability to take initiative
  • Basic skills in internet research
  • Exceptional enthusiasm and a commitment to learning
  • Competency with Microsoft Office products
  • Must be able to commit at least 12-16 months and work at least 5 hours per week toward internship
  • Knowledge of green building and LEED Rating System preferred, but not required
  • Bachelor’s degree in a related field (Architecture, Engineering, Environmental Sciences, Urban Planning, Interior Design, Construction Management, or other) preferred, but not required
  • Interns are expected to pass the Green Associate exam within 6 months of hire and the LEED Accredited Professional exam within 12 months of hire
To Apply
Please include the following in your correspondence:
      A.  A cover letter that includes:
1.      An overview of your key strengths, both professionally and personally
2.      A description of your past experiences related to the primary duties and qualifications
3.      The reasons you feel you’re a great addition to the IBE team
B.  Your resume
C.  A writing sample (for example: a class paper, blog article, essay, report, etc.)

Submit your cover letter and resume to April Brown at april.brown@colostate.edu by February 28. Include “Sustainable Building Associate” in the subject line.

Colorado State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, gender, disability, veteran status, genetic information, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. Colorado State University is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action employer fully committed to achieving a diverse workforce and complies with all Federal and Colorado State laws, regulations, and executive orders regarding non-discrimination and affirmative action. The Office of Equal Opportunity is located in 101 Student Services. 

Colorado State University is committed to providing a safe and productive learning and living community. To achieve that goal, we conduct background investigations for all final candidates being considered for employment. Background checks may include, but are not limited to, criminal history, national sex offender search and motor vehicle history.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Coors Field Sustainable Garden

By: Colin Day

The Institute for the Built Environment has finished its first growing season in the urban garden business. In collaboration with ARAMARK Food Services operating at Coors Field, our executive management and graduate student interns implemented the installation of the Coors Field Sustainable Garden, located at Gate A of the stadium in Denver, before the commencement of the 2013 baseball season. ARAMARK food services, an industry leader in public venue scale food service and facility maintenance, contracted IBE to assist in the creation of a pilot garden space, a first within major league sports venues. The goal was to realize the vision of on-site, sustainably produced food. The design mimics a baseball stadium with raised beds terracing upwards from the garden’s ‘infield’ to the ‘outfield’, to the ‘stands’. Ornamental flowers, followed by herbs and beneficial garden plants, followed by vegetables were on display for the ½ million fans that pass through Gate A over the course of the Rockies’ season.

The vision of ARAMARK to display and provide healthy, sustainably produced herbs and vegetables on-site as a part of their food operations is an example of a large company-wide commitment to sustainability. ARAMARK promotes sustainable practices in food purchasing, environmentally responsible consumer choices, greenhouse gas conscious building operations, energy and water conservation measures, green cleaning, greening their delivery fleet and ethically managing their waste products.

IBE facilitated design development, chose sustainable materials that would best suit the project ethos, contracted local, organic plant propagation, managed PR communication from conception to implementation and participated in the installation of the garden. During the 2013 growing season, the Coors Field Sustainable Garden provided 600 sq/ft of on-site, sustainably produced and managed vegetables, herbs, flowering ornaments, and plants that promote beneficial garden ecosystem functions to on-site chefs through the 2013 growing season. The harvest included heirloom varieties of tomatoes and peppers and a wide variety of herbs that were harvested by the IBE team and on-site kitchen staff during late August and early September of 2013.

IBE has successfully contracted to expand the scope of our involvement with ARAMARK in the 2014 growing season. This will include outreach to educational and city programs in the Denver area with an emphasis on community involvement and healthy, sustainable food choices for at-risk and under served youth communities. In order to realize these goals, our project team will pursue partnerships with programs such as and Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), as well as potential coalitions with governing bodies such as the Denver Public School System. Additionally, our crops selections will be expanded to lengthen the growing season and increase the variety of selection and nutrition within the beds.

Ultimately, IBE hopes to develop the ‘The GaRden’ as a component of ARAMARK’s Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) goals.  With outreach to other interested ARAMARK facilities with assistance from Denver ARAMARK management, the goal is an export of sets of guidelines and toolkits that assist in the establishment of sustainable gardens at other ARAMARK venues. Through the connection between relevant programs in higher education to nearby ARAMARK facilities, the potential ensuing collaboration would include regionally relevant outreach agendas.

Our experience at Coors Field in collaboration with ARAMARK corresponds with our ethos of sustainable design in the built environment, regionally relevant projects, and educational outreach that intends to spread understanding about sustainable activities and their impacts on health. IBE looks forward to breaking ground at Coors Field again during the 2014 growing season with our project partners at ARAMARK.