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Comparing Green Building Certification Programs

January 29, 2013 | 0 comments

Because most professionals agree on what constitutes good energy, environmental, and sustainable processes and practices, there are more similarities than differences when it comes to comparing green building certification programs.

But we break down the basics of each program, going beyond the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED rating system, to give you a better idea of where your building might best fit.

BOMA 360

Established: 2009

About: Evaluates buildings against best practices in six categories: building operations and management; life safety, security, and risk management; training and education; energy; environmental/sustainability; and tenant relations/community involvement. 

Cost: Based on building size and BOMA membership ($750 to $1,500 for members; $950 to $1,900 for non-members).

Suitable for: Occupied commercial buildings with a Standard Operating Procedures manual and formal preventive maintenance program, participated in the most recent BOMA Experience Exchange Report or IREM benchmarking survey, ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager energy performance data.

Number of buildings certified: 420

Example: 330 North Wabash in Chicago           


Earth Advantage Commercial

Established: 2008

About: Offers three certification levels in five categories: energy efficiency, water conservation, healthy environment, use of green materials, and sustainable land use.

Cost: $2,500 to enroll; additional $2,500 to complete certification

Suitable for: New construction and major renovations of up to 100,000 feet

Number of buildings certified: 32

Example: Central Oregon Community College Jungers Culinary Center in Bend, OR


Green Globes

Established: 1996

About: Process is online and interactive, enabling users to change inputs to keep assessments up-to-date. As a “virtual consultant,” the system provides instant feedback on environmental aspects building design, along with advice and available resources. Environmental impacts are assessed on a 1,000-point scale in energy, water, resources, emissions, indoor environment, site, and project management categories.

Cost: $3,000 to 5,000

Suitable for: Large and small buildings, including offices, multi-family structures, and institutional buildings.

Number of buildings certified:  100+

Example: Michael E. DeBakey Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Houston


Living Building Challenge

Established: 2006

About: Buildings must comply with each of the 20 imperatives, including net-zero energy and water use, avoiding chemicals listed on the Institute’s Red List, and integrating agricultural opportunities. Projects are certified as “Living” if they meet all program requirements after 12 months of continued operations and full occupancy.

Cost: Registration fee of $250 for renovation or $500 for new construction, plus $2,500 to $25,000 based on certification levels

Suitable for: Existing buildings (at least one year old)

Number of buildings certified: Three buildings completely certified, two projects with partial certification, and two projects certified as net-zero energy buildings

Example: Tyson Living Learning Center in Eureka, MO



Established: 2010

About: Makes use of a dynamic scoring system that takes limitations and impracticalities of existing buildings into consideration. Evaluation is based on energy and water efficiency, environmental impact, waste and greenhouse gas emission reduction, occupant health and comfort, renewable energy use, and innovative sustainable practices.

Cost: Depending on the size of the building, costs range from $4,000 to $12,000.

Suitable for: New or existing office buildings, retail, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, multifamily, and institutional buildings.

Number of buildings certified: 60

Example: Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Auburn Hills, MI


Have you pursued any of these certification programs? What were your experiences like?

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