Article Date: 06/13/2014

LEED vs. Green Globes: How Do the Costs for Each Differ?

By Steve Rizer


The Green Globes certification process is significantly less expensive to conduct and faster to complete than its Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) counterpart, … at least for one Philadelphia building that underwent an examination of what it took to get the structure certified under each rating system.


A recently released report, entitled “A Study of Comparative Sustainability Certification Costs/Green Rating System Cost Comparison Study: LEED and Green Globes,” details various costs involving the Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building at Drexel University’s West Philadelphia campus, a five-story, 130,000-square-foot laboratory and classroom facility that opened in 2011. Costs considered for the report include the following: intrinsic hard costs, allocable on a line-by-line basis, for meeting criteria in each of the rating systems; 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 optional costs stemming from implementation of the two rating systems. The building received three Green Globes from the Green Building Initiative (GBI) and a LEED Gold rating (Version 3, 2009) from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).


Rating systems costs, with design and construction premiums, associated with the building totaled $1.092 million for Green Globes and $1.254 million for LEED, according to the report. Aggregate LEED costs (i.e., hard costs, soft costs, and optional costs for sustainability rating) were approximately 15 percent higher than that for Green Globes. Direct rating system costs totaled $41,585 under Green Globes and $204,460 under LEED.


Also reported was a “significant variance in the number of hours devoted to the project by the owner’s facilities personnel, depending upon the rating system. Cost records indicate that the owner posted 16 personnel-days (128 hours) of direct personnel time to LEED rating support and administration; whereas the GBI Green Globes rating and support consumed just 3.5 personnel-days (28 hours).”


Jeffrey Beard, an associate professor in the Department of Construction Management at Drexel’s College of Engineering, prepared the report. GBI funded the study but pointed out that he conducted the research without any oversight from the organization, using timesheets and other records of administrative costs maintained by the project team and the university.


The ConstructionPro Network member version of this article includes additional details from the report and comments that GBI President Jerry Yudelson made during an interview with ConstructionPro Week.



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