Last week Green Building Initiative announced that it had completed the bold and innovative acquisition of Green Globes from JLL and I had an opportunity to speak with Vicki Worden, President and CEO of GBI and Bob Best, Executive Vice President of JLL.

In 2008, JLL, a Fortune 500 company with more than $50 billion of real estate under asset management, purchased ECD, a Canadian sustainability consulting organization that had developed Green Globes. JLL continued ECD’s strategy of promoting Green Globes in Canada as a building sustainability assessment and certification system.

GBI, a nonprofit organization, had first licensed the U.S. rights to Green Globes in 2004 from ECD and continued to operate the Green Globes program in the U.S.

In early 2017, GBI approached JLL with a strategy to purchase Green Globes and make significant investments in improving the technical platform, re-branding Green Globes and expanding its market reach. JLL accepted that Green Globes, which was a small independent operating unit, should be better owned and operated by a dedicated and neutral, not for profit organization that could serve the entire commercial real estate industry, including those JLL competitors who were uneasy about the relationship.

The terms of the sale were not disclosed, but all have been assured that this is a true sale and JLL’s involvement in the future will only be as a customer of GBI.

“As a nonprofit, GBI is in a better position to grow the sustainability movement as the sole owner and promoter of Green Globes, and we have every confidence in GBI’s ability to do so,” according to Bob Best.

Some suggest this acquisition should be seen as further consolidation of the green building industrial complex, but others see this as much larger than the single corporate act that it is an effort to square the circle in a huge expansion of market share in 2018 by Green Globes.

GBI has experienced significant growth over the past 2 years. As of January 2, 2018, 1,594 buildings in the U.S. have been certified by GBI. 1,328 under Green Globes; 266 under its Guiding Principles Compliance program; and 193 dual certified. In total, GBI has certified 299,152,031 square feet, 280,920,871 square feet of which was certified under Green Globes. A map of GBI certified buildings in the U.S. can be found here. Green Globes has garnered significant attention recently, and counts major national brands such as Whole Foods, Fidelity, and MGM Resorts as part of its expanding customer portfolio. Government is widely expanding statutory definitions of green building to include Green Globes from the GSA to the State of Maryland.

An increase in promotion, including a “brand refresh” and a new software platform expected to be completed in 2018 and launched in 2019 will fuel the expanded operations. And Vicki Worden offers assurances to customers who today demand real communication with real people that the “high touch customer service” that has been a hallmark of Green Globes, including keeping the program easy to use, will remain unchanged after this acquisition and after the release of GB101-201X which will become the next version of Green Globes NC when released in second quarter 2018.

GBI has established a Canadian non-profit subsidiary, GB Initiative Canada, to support the growth and previously established use of Green Globes in the Canadian marketplace and will begin a listening tour in Canada to judge customer demand.

No immediate push outside of North America is planned, but GBI is aware of clients with projects on other continents and they have made clear they will support the use of Green Globes as a certification option for those international owners.

Before the acquisition there are already 49 states with GBI certified buildings and this acquisition will no doubt result in more Green Globes building and more green building everywhere as more in the commercial real estate industry drink the green Kool-Aid.

This is more than just the first big green building story of the year. Green Globes is number two with a bullet. In 2018 forward thinking real estate professionals will consider Green Globes favorably as they consider the cacophony of high performance building.

Vicki Worden is clearly excited when she says this acquisition “was a logical and natural next step to further our mission to accelerate the adoption of green building best practices in the built environment.” And she could not sound more confident about the future of green building when she makes the point that growth in Green Globes will be driven by the fact that “third party certification does not have to be bureaucratic or costly.”