Green Globes Certification: Delivering Sustainability in Multifamily Housing

GBI’s Green Globes Certification is a win-win for all stakeholders

By Vicki Worden

As multifamily developers and owners respond to tenant demand for sustainable and healthy buildings, an increasing number are certifying their properties through the Green Building Initiative’s (GBI) Green Globes certification program. Whether evaluating the design and intended performance of a new construction project or assessing actual performance of an existing building, pursuing Green Globes certification demonstrates a commitment to sustainability, health, wellness and resilience while reducing operating costs and adding value to a property. 

“Developers need to take their commitments to sustainability and healthy buildings seriously,” says Ray Tonjes, Founding Chair of GBI, chair emeritus of National Association of Home Builders’ Sustainable and Green Building Subcommittee, and owner of Ray Tonjes Builder Inc., “prospective tenants are paying attention and demanding proof to back up their words.”

GBI and Green Globes have earned a reputation for excellence and expertise in the multifamily sector. Since 2004, GBI has certified over 222 million square feet of multifamily space across North America and over 500 million square feet of building space overall.

A Collaborative Approach to Certification

Green Globes offers the invaluable support of an expert dedicated to your project. Green Globes’ third-party assessors interface with project teams and building owners in real-time to create powerful partnerships. Skilled in green building design best practices, engineering, construction and facility operations, the assessor reviews documentation and the online questionnaire, answers questions, conducts onsite building assessments and offers personalized suggestions to enhance the building’s sustainability. The process is supportive, educational and is personalized for every project team and property type.  

Among its many features, the Green Globes software includes an activity log that allows team members to exchange comments with each other and their assessor and encourages an integrated team approach by letting team members assign criteria to various disciplines. Project teams and facility managers can monitor and improve utility consumption through the software’s reporting capabilities, and data can be directly imported from Energy Star Portfolio Manager. This allows project teams to quickly identify performance slippage and rectify issues.

Adaptable and Flexible

Another trademark of the Green Globes assessment and rating system is its flexibility, which makes certification accessible for any building type, size or location. Rather than relying on one-size-fits-all prerequisites, Green Globes is based on a 1,000 point scale. Criteria is weighted according to environmental, health, wellness, and resilience impact.

Other flexibility features include: a not-applicable provision for criteria not relevant to a specific building due to property type, location or items out of scope, multiple path options which allow project teams to pursue one of a few methods for achieving credit and incremental scoring opportunities.

These features create a custom-tailored approach offering building owners and managers the chance to select which sustainability features are the best fit for their building and occupants.

Validating Health & Wellness

Tenants want to live, work and enjoy their time in healthy buildings. A healthy building provides an indoor environment that improves occupant health, productivity and overall wellness. The demand for healthy buildings is on the rise and building owners are engaging in practices to improve indoor air quality, increase access to the outdoors and use materials certified for low-VOCs. Tenants also want transparency when it comes to health and wellness initiatives. GBI’s newest certification option, Green Globes with Distinction in Health & Wellness, allows owners to provide another layer of assurance to their residents.

This tool is a data-informed way to demonstrate that the design and/or operations of a building have addressed indoor air quality (IAQ), thermal comfort, daylighting and natural views, site planning that encourages healthy activity and policies addressing safety and security measures. Green Globes with Distinction in Health & Wellness is currently available for buildings certifying through the Existing Buildings certification tool and will soon be available for New Construction projects.

Doing Right for Tenants, Doing Right for the Planet

GBI wants tenants to feel empowered to be selective, and certification is a powerful communication tool for multifamily building owners and leasing agents. Owners and managers of sustainable, healthy and resilient buildings possess a higher value asset – one that demonstrates attention to minimizing environmental impact, efficiency and tenant satisfaction. Third-party certification demonstrates initiative by owners and managers and validates their commitment through proven results. GBI’s Green Globes certification with Health & Wellness Distinction recognizes desired transparency and assurance of owner intention and follow through for current and future tenants.

Vicki Worden serves as President and CEO of the Green Building Initiative (GBI), an international nonprofit dedicated to reducing climate impacts by improving the built environment.