There is an electric charge running through the green building industrial complex with the announcement last week that “Green Building Initiative Launches New Green Globes Pilot Program.” And while the breadth of the pilots among building type and geographic location is impressive, the press release buried the lede.

The real news behind that headline causing great enthusiasm is that after a 3 year process, the Green Building Initiative is nearing the end and a completely revised “Green Globes Assessment Protocol for Commercial Buildings” will be available in 2018.

Vicki Worden, president & CEO of GBI is making clear, “We’re excited to work collaboratively with other organizations on education to advance new concepts and best practices that are included in the revision.”

Those who have seen the completely revised Standard, including many of the more than 800 people who commented in the 3 rounds of public comment, are excited both about the modernization and increased rigor from the existing ‘somewhat dated’ Green Globes standard that was finalized in 2010 and that Green Globes’ reputation for flexibility has been maintained, where building owners are free to choose the criteria within the assessment areas that are relevant to their projects thereby maximizing the green efficacy of their building.

In 2018, green building is a cacophony of green building standards, codes and rating systems, some of which have not been widely accepted by the market, the new Green Globes Standard is being hailed as a euphony among sustainable building.

Revisions to the Standard include:

The new section dedicated to Site and Building Resilience now incorporates a broad breadth of transportation criteria and addresses access to public transportation, bicycle paths, car and van pools, alternative re-fueling stations, and neighborhood assets, such as grocery stores. It also addresses construction impacts like tree preservation, stormwater management, landscaping and urban agriculture, and exterior light pollution. .. all of which sounds like pretty standard green building stuff, but the new Standard advances new concepts and goal setting for these credits, and others, involving the owner at pre design and carrying through to measurement of results at occupancy.

Three options are provided that allow building owners to choose for assessing projected energy performance, including use of ASHRAE 90.1-2010 Appendix G, assessing Building Carbon Dioxide Equivalent Emissions, or following a Prescriptive path.  Non-modeled energy impacts are assessed, and metering, monitoring, and measuring have been revamped to further incentivize sub-metering, monitoring, and verification of actual performance. Credits for use of onsite and offsite renewable energy have been clarified and streamlined.

Indoor plumbing has 4 paths with 32 possible points and is heavily weighted to encourage use of plumbing fixtures that comply with either ASHRAE SS189.1-2014, 2015 International Green Construction Code Table 702.1, or 2015 IAPMO Green Plumbing & Mechanical Code Supplement Section 402. There are also specific sections that address water intensive applications.

And while much attention has been paid to the Resource Conservation criteria that address minimized use of raw materials and encourages designing for deconstruction, a lot of the cutting edge work is found in the Materials section. The Materials section contains criteria on materials throughout their lifecycle and includes both whole building life cycle assessment as well as product life cycle assessment options. But Green Globes departs from where others have gone in the green building space with its leading edge Risk Assessment criteria that addresses chemical transparency concerns in today’s market by encouraging project teams to specify materials that have been evaluated by product manufacturers in accordance with NSF/GCI/ANSI 355: Greener Chemicals and Processes Information Standard and that have had verification of exposure factors. The new Standard cuts through the politics of the environmental movement with criteria for single attributes, such as use of pre- and post-consumer recycled materials, bio-based content, and third-party forestry certification.

The Indoor Environment section incorporates the latest technology, research, and solutions, much of that in the name of the now trending health and wellness, for air ventilation and quality, source control and measurement of indoor pollutants, lighting design and systems, thermal comfort, and a significantly updated acoustic comfort section.

Projects need to attain a minimum 20% score in each Assessment Area to receive certification, but consistent with Green Globes’ reputation for flexibility, users are free to choose from a large pool of 1,000 possible points within the assessment areas that are most relevant to their projects.

The new Green Globes Standard is going to dent the market.

This is not year 2000, when LEED was the first and only green building game in U.S. markets. As I have previously written in this blog, 2018 will be a Year for New Green Building Standards, Codes and Rating Systems, and in 2018 there will be new versions of LEED, ASHARE 189.1, IgCC, ICC 700, and Green Globes. It is clear that the real estate industry is developing out of its green building adolescence and selecting winners and losers. When Green Globes 01-201X is green lighted, it can be expected to gain significant traction and achieve far wider market acceptance than Green Globes has experienced to date. That rising tide lifts all boats and will be key to restoring some of the lost luster across the U.S. green building sector.

And yes for those excited about the pilot program described in the press release, as of the date of this blog post there is still one spot still available for a new construction or major renovation. The GBI invites interested building owners or design teams to contact info@thegbi.org for questions about pilot program participation and certification under the new Standard.