Green Globes Certification Showcases Existing Buildings’ Sustainable Practices

Green Globes certification is an efficient process that is useful for existing buildings.

Green Globes certification is an efficient process that is useful for existing buildings.

In 1981, Jim Mark joined Melvin Mark Cos., the commercial property-management firm his grandfather started four decades earlier in Portland, Ore. Long before “sustainability” was a recognized term, making smart environmental choices was part of the company’s ethos. “Environmental stewardship was a family value,” Mark, now the firm’s CEO, recalls. “My mom was a consummate recycler. When I was a kid, we’d drive to the recycling sorting station downtown with our light bulbs, glass and newspapers. We’ve always known that the little things we do make a big difference, like keeping materials out of the landfill and cutting back on power use.”

To verify buildings’ environmental attributes, the company began certifying buildings as soon as third-party certification processes became available. Melvin Mark Cos. owns and manages 1.2 million square feet of property and third-party manages and leases approximately 2 million additional square feet of space, often buying and selling buildings for clients and representing tenants looking for space. After one positive experience certifying a property under the Portland-based Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes rating system, Mark decided to seek Green Globes certification for the Crown Plaza building in downtown Portland.

“I’m all about efficiency and when I first heard about Green Globes certification, it seemed like a really efficient process,” Mark says. “My building staff knows our buildings inside and out, and Green Globes takes advantage of that, letting them be involved. It’s as rigorous as other certification systems, and I think Green Globes is especially useful for existing buildings.”

In the opposite corner of the nation, Midgard Management, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., used the Green Globes process to concurrently certify two projects: 1201 Crown Center and 1475 Crown Center. The commercial property-management company manages 2.5 million square feet of space and hired Michelle Raigosa Cottrell, president of Fort Lauderdale’s Design Management Services, as project manager for the certification processes. Raigosa Cottrell also sees Green Globes as a strong choice for certifying existing buildings. “It’s a more flexible rating system. Green Globes gives you credit for individual strategies, like having MERV 13 filters in place. When you’re working with existing buildings’ limitations, it’s critical to have viable options for making improvements,” she says.

The Green Building Initiative Assessor evaluates information submitted by the team and conducts an onsite walkthrough to visually inspect environmental claims.

The Green Building Initiative Assessor evaluates information submitted by the team and conducts an onsite walkthrough to visually inspect environmental claims.

The Green Globes Process

Each team launched its Green Globes for Existing Buildings (EB) certification processes by completing an online survey and submitting relevant information about their projects for review. The Green Globes EB rating system assesses environmental impacts on a 1,000-point scale across six different environmental assessment areas: Energy, Water, Resources, Emissions, Indoor Environment and Environmental Management. Each environmental assessment area includes weighted criteria with an assigned number of possible points.

Green Globes also includes a “non-applicable” provision, essentially customizing the tool to each project. The provision reduces total points possible to prevent penalization for items that don’t make sense given each building’s type, climate zone and use. Although there are no prerequisites in the program, the minimum threshold projects must score is 35 percent of the total applicable points. Projects are rated with One, Two, Three or Four Green Globes, depending on their level of accomplishment.

“We recognize each building is unique and our goal is to make certification complement the companies’ sustainable achievements,” explains Vicki Worden, executive director of the Green Building Initiative. “It’s more than a certification tool though; Green Globes offers a great roadmap for decisionmaking—now and in the future.”

About the Author

KJ Fields
KJ Fields writes about design, sustainability and health from Portland, Ore.

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