Green Globes is a whole-house building certification program administered by the Green Building Initiative, which is a non-profit based in Portland, OR. Single family homes are not eligible to receive Green Globes, just multifamily and commercial buildings. 

The hallmark of the Green Globes program is its proprietary software system that is used for project planning, verification, and certification. Notwithstanding Green Globes technical merits, the program prides itself on a high level of customer service and human interaction. The combination of these two factors helps the builder gauge whether he/she is on the right track toward obtaining a certification throughout the design and building processes.

A unique feature of the Green Globes certification is that the Green Building Initiative contracts directly with accredited third party assessors (a.k.a. raters). Serving as the main point of contact during the certification process, the assessor handles most of the paperwork and communication. Assessors are assigned based on experience level with the building type, not on proximity to the project or relationship with the customer. This means an out-of-state assessor could be assigned and would raise many of the same issues associated with the NGBS certification.


Four different levels of certification are awarded based on the number of points scored:

  • 1 Green Globe:      350 to 559 points
  • 2 Green Globes:    560 to 699 points
  • 3 Green Globes:    700 to 849 points
  • 4 Green Globes:    850 to 1,000 points

There are a total of 1,000 points available, which are spread across the following categories:

  • Project Management
  • Site, Energy, Water*
  • Materials & Resources
  • Emissions
  • Indoor Environment

*Energy-related points represent nearly 40% of all available points. 

Contrary to common practice, there are no minimum point requirements for each category. For instance, a project could receive one Green Globe without addressing water, indoor air quality, etc.  One or two Green Globes are relatively easy and inexpensive to achieve. However, the process, expense, and hassle of obtaining three or four Green Globes would be similar to LEED Gold or Platinum. 


Step 1: The building team designs the project and completes the online survey using Green Globes software. The survey is typically completed by an architect, as it requires significant technical information. 

Step 2: The assessor reviews the designs and survey.

Step 3: During the construction process the building team continually updates the survey at each stage of development. 

Step 4: The assessor conducts on-site verification (pre-drywall).

Step 5: Construction is finished and the assessor performs final verifications. 

Step 6: The assessor develops a commissioning report with assistance from the building team.

Step 7: The assessor submits a Post-Assessment Report and a Commissioning Report to the Green Building Initiative.

Step 8: Certification is issued within 8 weeks from receipt of the Post Assessment Report. 


  1. Registration Fee : $1,500
  2. Certification Fee: $0
  3. Rater Fee: $9,000*
  4. Estimated Team Increase: Mid Range*

*The incremental cost for rater fees, administration, and design services will vary significantly depending upon how many globes are pursued. Incidental costs associated with one Green Globe would be minimal whereas four Green Globes would be similar in cost to a LEED certification. 

Market Recognition

  • Certified Single Family Homes in San Diego County: 0
  • Certified Multifamily Homes in San Diego County: 0
  • Certified Commercial Buildings in San Diego County: 7


The relative cost of the certification is expensive when compared to its market recognition. Although the software and commitment to customer service contribute to a decent turnaround time on certification, the hassle factor could be significant depending upon the level of certification obtained. Since three or four Green Globes are akin to LEED certification, much of the documentation requirements create additional work for the building team. Furthermore, any time new software is introduced there will be a learning curve, which could eliminate many of the marketed efficiencies associated with the software. 

NEXT: GreenPoint Rated