Worldwide Green Rating Tool Providers Seek Common Language

By Erika Schnitzer, Associate EditorEarls Court, London—Green building officials in the U.S., the U.K. and Australia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to seek a common language for green building around the world on Tuesday at EcoBuild ’09 in Earls Court, London.The MOU, whose key objective, as stated in the document, is “To map and develop common metrics to measure emissions of CO2 equivalents from new homes and buildings,” will apply to residential and commercial buildings, including new multifamily developments, certified under any of the three programs.“For the building industry overall, being able to create a foundation [for comparison], we feel, is very important,” says Michelle Moore, senior vice president of policy and public affairs at the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC).The similarities of the rating systems—the USGBC’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the U.K. Green Building Council and BRE Trust’s BREEAM (Building Research Establishment’s Environmental Assessment Method) and the Green Building Council of Australia’s Green Star—provide a foundation for collaboration, according to Moore. Despite these similarities, the various systems have different baseline codes. As Moore notes, the MOU will not attempt to align the rating systems, but rather will try to align how they measure the performance of green buildings.However, there is “a need to compare results in terms of CO2 emissions, not only to measure the impact on the built environment, but also, ultimately, there could be a policy role at the international level,” Moore tells MHN.Representatives for each rating tool will collaborate to develop the metrics and align the tools to provide consistency in measurement and reporting. According to Moore, the USGBC’s goal is to have a working plan by the end of the year. “Our work together is going to be supportive of what the global real estate industry is trying to do,” she says.As Moore notes, a recent MacKenzie report identified $160 billion in savings for building green in the United States. “ Our community—owners and developers—need to be a part of this process to move the U.S. towards this savings,” she says.She adds that the MOU is particularly beneficial for those property owners with global portfolios and who have buildings that are certified with different ratings, because it will allow them to align the results of certification because of their CO2 emission reduction goals.