The Power of Site Assessments in Green Globes® Certification: An Interview with Green Globes Assessor David Johnson

The Green Building Initiative (GBI) is an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accredited Standards Developer dedicated to improving the built environment’s impact on climate and society. GBI delivers exceptional user-friendly tools, standards, educational programs, and a third-party green building rating system developed through a consensus-based and transparent process.  

GBI is the global administrator of its flagship Green Globes® whole-building certification. Green Globes is a science-based, three-in-one certification system that evaluates the environmental sustainability, health & wellness, and resilience of all types of commercial real estate. The personalized approach offered by Green Globes helps project teams design and operate the most sustainable outcomes based on the building’s type, location, budget, and occupancy needs. The program is known for its collaborative process, flexibility, and emphasis of rigor over rigidity. 

A critical component of all Green Globes certification is the site assessment, conducted by a dedicated third-party Green Globes Assessor (GGA). I had the privilege of sitting down with David Johnson, a seasoned GGA, to glean insight into the realm of site assessments and their pivotal role in achieving Green Globes certification. A licensed architect for over 30 years, David has experience with planning, design, and construction of a wide range of project types across the globe. His experiences led him to serve as a Construction Program Manager for the U.S. Air Force providing oversight for construction projects in Germany and Egypt. He has also served as a Facility Manager at Air Force bases in the U.S. and Italy. His consulting experience includes project design, construction inspection, and advising on a wide range of architectural and environmental issues. Here he shares with us his perspective on how the performance of a site assessment impacts a Green Globes assessment.

GBI: In your experience, how does a site assessment improve the rigor and value of a building assessment?

Johnson: The site assessment ensures the sustainable features of the building were incorporated as intended. The site assessment also provides the opportunity for the project team to engage with the GGA and better understand how their roles contribute to the building assessment and Green Globes certification.     

GBI: Can a site assessment reduce the burden of documentation preparation? How so?

Johnson: Yes, a site assessment can definitely reduce the amount of documentation required to assess sustainable features of the building. There are several criteria that are more easily inspected through visual observation than documentation. As they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

GBI: Could you elaborate on the role of the GGA during the site assessment and how their expertise influences the overall outcome?

Johnson: The GGA will help the project team prepare for the site assessment and is available to answer questions before, during, and after the site assessment. The GGA will use their professional judgement to guide the project team through the site assessment and ensure the process is smooth and efficient.

GBI: For projects with an upcoming site assessment, what advice or insights would you offer to maximize the benefits and streamline the process?

Johnson: Ensure the construction, including sitework, is substantially complete, so there is minimal follow-up required by the project team to assess incomplete items. It is very helpful if the GGA has any required documentation available for review prior to the site assessment.

GBI: What advantages does conducting a site assessment offer in the context of achieving Green Globes certification?

Johnson: The site assessment will often reveal aspects of the building that qualify for credit that the project team did not realize were available or achievable. The GGA will know by the end of the site assessment what, if any, outstanding items are needed to achieve the desired level of certification. The GGA engages with the project team, providing an improved understanding of the Green Globes process and certification. This valuable open dialogue differentiates Green Globes from other certification platforms. 

Site assessments have a powerful impact on both the client experience and the outcome of a Green Globes assessment. A site assessment offers more to Green Globes certification than procedural steps; It is an integral component that enhances the client experience through an efficient and streamlined process. The site assessment also maximizes the assessor’s expertise, allowing projects to improve the sustainability, health and wellness, and resilience of both the current and future projects. 







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