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My View: Competition benefits green building industry

Article on LEED, Green Globes presents unbalanced portrait


The existence of more than one strong green building rating system should be welcomed by stakeholders, industry, elected officials and businesses that support the growth of more sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Virtual monopolies rarely produce the best of breed, products or services.

Rather than recognize the benefits of a free-market approach to achieving this goal, the Portland Tribune’s story (Clash of the Green Giants, Oct. 24) ignores key facts and instead falsely mischaracterizes the impact and contributions of the Green Globes green building certification system.

The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system is the oldest, most widely used and most widely recognized of all the green building rating systems available today. This status has allowed LEED to prosper and become even more entrenched.

In fact, up until Oct. 25, the federal government and many states held LEED up as the only certification system they recognized. USGBC has achieved this position while enjoying a stronger “connection to the wood and chemical industries” than GBI, as evidenced by the larger number of industry participants who are USGBC members.

While portraying USGBC as independent and consensus based, the article ignores the fact that GBI is an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Accredited Standards Developing Organization and is the only certification program developer to use a true consensus process. Green Globes development is driven by an ANSI standard — “ANSI/GBI 01-2010: Green Building Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings.”

The fact is, there is room for both LEED and Green Globes. As the Tribune article states, green building is a $50 billion industry. As with other industries, competition and choice among green building certification systems will only help to improve their offerings. The expertise and innovations that each of these certification systems contribute will only help to drive forward the green building movement to the benefit of everyone.

We are proud of the role we have played in advancing the overall environmental performance and sustainability of commercial buildings. The fact that we have developed a more streamlined and affordable option shows that there are various approaches to our common building performance goals.

The integrity and efficacy of green building certification must be maintained, and having more than one system as part of the process is the right way forward. Any discussion of the merits of certification programs should start with the overall technical rigor of that program and how well it supports the goal of producing the greatest number of sustainable buildings based on the science used.

Readers would benefit more from, and have a greater appreciation for, articles that address the topic with more substance and objectivity.

Sharene Rekow is vice president of business development for the Green Building Initiative in Southeast Portland.