GBI Launches Sustainable Interiors Certification Program

PORTLAND, Ore. — The nonprofit Green Building Initiative (GBI) launched on June 9 a new certification program that focuses on the sustainable design and construction of interior spaces in commercial and institutional buildings.

The new Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors, allows both building owners and individual lessees of commercial spaces to pursue the certification and to focus on designing or improving their interior space to Green Globes standards without having to certify the entire building.

“One of the aspects that makes Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors so versatile – and practical – is that it enables tenants to certify the specific environmental and sustainability attributes of the space they lease,” said GBI president Jerry Yudelson in a statement. “Other certifications include aspects of the entire building and surroundings, and as a result tenant improvements can be penalized for conditions they do not control.”

While trying to obtain certification, a third-party assessor will review building characteristics and documentation. However, the program has no prerequisites, which could “unfairly penalize building projects and possibly result in their inability to use a green building rating system.” The program requires interior designers and tenant project teams to address only those sustainability criteria within their “domain of influence.”

Using a 1,000-point scale, weighted individual criteria reflect relative impact and/or benefit to sustainability of the tenant improvements, according to a statement. The certification includes six environmental assessment areas: project management, energy, water, materials and resources, emissions and other impacts, and indoor environment.

The program also emphasizes key performance indicators of energy, materials and indoor environment. Because the program does not deal with site characteristics and only focuses on parameters within the scope of a typical tenant improvement, the costs for certification are lowered.

Additionally, the program includes a “dual-pathway approach” to materials choices for interior fit-outs, utilizing either lifecycle assessment (LCA) or Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs). Interior designers are rewarded for using multi-purpose furniture, modular furniture and casework solutions, and other fit-out elements that can be easily reconfigured. Reuse of existing interior fit-outs, including finishes, furnishings and other non-structural elements will also score points.

The program’s rating system also includes direct reference to other industry standards, such as the new level of sustainability standard of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA).

As an alternative to LEED, GBI offers other web-based Green Globes programs, including Green Globes for New Construction, Green Globes for Continual Improvement of Existing Buildings and Green Globes CIEB for Healthcare.

“The Green Globes for Sustainable Interiors program will be especially attractive to tenants who want to improve their workspace sustainability in situations where a landlord does not plan to address changes in other tenant or common spaces,” Yudelson said.

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