Ah, the sweet smells of a brand new building —- sort of like a new car but with more paint vapors. The new Gerri C. LeBow Hall opened at the beginning of this term way ahead of schedule. With its dual-flush toilets, automatic light systems, and natural light emanating from the classrooms, it’s easy for a tree hugger like me to get excited. As a building so new with a fair amount of sustainable features, one would expect the University to take advantage of that and pursue a green building certification, right? Well, yes, but they’re certifying it with the wrong certification organization.
Wait, there’s more than one green building certification? Why, yes, there is! Today, class, we’ll be focusing on the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design and the Green Globes certifications. Some of you may have heard of LEED buildings before: built by the U.S. government, Starbucks, Nike, Whole Foods Market, and over 7,000 other projects around the world. As you may know, Drexel operations favor Green Globe certification over LEED certification because of cost and (probably) the speed of the process. Admittedly, LEED takes a bit longer to certify — it’s a crazy, in-depth process, and if you have some bad LEED consultants, it can cost you more than a conventional building.
So, let me explain why I favor LEED certification over Green Globes by throwing out some information found in other credible articles. As stated by the design editor of TreeHugger, an environmental news site, “Green Globes … serves just one purpose: to be a building certification system that is friendlier to big wood and to the plastics industry and to displace LEED.” You may be thinking: What do plastics and wood have to do with building certifications? Well, think about the materials you put into building a large building like Gerri C. LeBow Hall — you need wood for the trim, furniture and other miscellaneous things. Then you also need other materials like glass, marble, or in some cases plastics like vinyl. The LEED certification doesn’t give you points for irresponsibly sourced wood or any material made of plastic. Green Globes, on the other hand, has been found to lobby with these two industries to rebel against USGBC. They work with plastic and wood industry lobbyists to say, “LEED puts American lumberjacks and oil refinery workers out of a job.” Strike 1 for Green Globes.
Strike 2 is the lack of transparency that the Green Globes process has. This means that in the whole process of certifying a building, whether Green Globes, LEED or Living Building Challenge, it’s important for the information to be public — to be able to see what questions get what points, what the results were, etc. But Green Globes hides many of its points and ratings, giving the certification a bad reputation.
Strike 3? We’re all trying to be green here. We are fighting a huge uphill battle with disbelievers and industries that oppose us. Why are we fighting each other? Green Globes tends to bash LEED and even says that it’s the answer for the buildings that aren’t LEED-eligible or for people who think LEED is too complicated and bureaucratic. Instead of saying what LEED is bad at, tell us what you’re good at (see transparency: strike 2, above.) We’re all in this together!
Our Papadakis Integrated Sciences Building, or as I like to call it “Pop, Lock and Dak It” (I hope this becomes a thing), is Green Globes certified and LEED silver! Yay — the best of both worlds. But what does the future hold for LeBow’s new monster of a building? Drexel only plans on pursuing Green Globes. I’d like for Drexel to pursue LEED certification for the new building and also the rec center because the rec center is definitely eligible for certification! Email Drexel Green or Drexel Sierra Club to voice your opinion.
This is your campus! What types of green buildings do you want your campus to have?
Nicole Koedyker is the president of the Drexel Sierra Club. She can be contacted at email@example.com.
The Drexel Sierra Club contributes weekly.