Are ‘Green Globes’ Guilty of Greenwashing?

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Photo by Fotolia/Paulista
How do we determine whether a building is “green”? Two different certification organizations — LEED and Green Globes — are vying for credibility to do just that, but one may be trying to game the green-building industry.

Since 2000, green builders have looked to LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) for guidance on design and construction. LEED-certified buildings promote sustainability, save resources, and are better for people and the planet. Now, a competing certification system called Green Globes is criticizing LEED and trying to position itself as the alternative.

But it turns out that the Green Building Initiative (GBI), which administers Green Globes, is supported by dues from the chemical, plastics and conventional timber industries. According to a report by Greenwash Action, a joint initiative of Sierra Club and Greenpeace, the GBI’s “members and supporters” include groups that directly contradict the goals and practices of green building, such as the American Chemistry Council. The report reveals that Green Globe’s standards allow toxic building materials (such as endocrine-disrupting chemicals in carpet), less stringent forestry standards, and other not-so-sustainable approaches to building.

Amanda Sorell is an Associate Editor at MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine. You can find her on .