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Study finds $1/sq. ft. savings in Green Globes vs. LEED certification process

Source: Green Building Initiative, Portland, Ore.; CP staff

The Green Building Initiative’s Green Globes is less expensive to conduct and faster to complete than the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification, according to a GBI-cited study of costs attending a recently completed building—bearing three Green Globes and LEED Gold certification—at Drexel University’s West Philadelphia campus.

“Green Globe gives the market a choice among certification systems and provides competition that helps improve results for users, resulting in more innovation and lower costs over time,” says GBI President Jerry Yudelson. “In this particular project, the cost savings to the University were on the order of $1.00 per square foot, a significant number for a large building.”

In “A Study of Comparative Sustainability Certification Costs,” centered on expenditures tied to the pursuit of Green Globes and LEED certification on the five-story, 130,000-sq.-ft. Papadakis Integrated Sciences building, Drexel Department of Construction Management Associate Professor Jeffrey Beard examines a) intrinsic hard costs, allocable on a line-by-line basis, for meeting criteria in each of the rating systems; b) soft costs, whether accounted for as part of the indirect project costs or secondary soft costs that arose as a result of the project, but were otherwise allocated or absorbed; and, c) optional costs arising from implementation of the two green building rating systems.

A key variance in the two rating systems his study reveals was the cost of using each. The breakdown summarized in the university’s records indicates internal (staff time) costs at Drexel for administering both systems were more than $125,000 for LEED versus $9,000 for Green Globes. Aggregate green building costs (i.e., hard cost premium, soft costs and optional costs for sustainability rating) were nearly 15 percent higher for LEED than for Green Globes.