The Portland, Ore.-based Green Building Initiative (GBI) has launched a new guide to help federal agencies building new construction projects to comply more easily with a 2009 executive order related to sustainability in federal buildings.

"The Guiding Principles Compliance for New Construction" of federal buildings, released on Feb. 19, complements GBI's program for existing federal buildings, which has certified approximately 250 buildings since its inception. The standards are based upon GBI's Green Globes rating system.

According to GBI's new president, Jerry Yudelson, the compliance guide allows agencies to "meet the requirements of the executive order without having to go through all the expense of formal certification."

In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order that established the "Guiding Principles for Federal Leadership in High Performance and Sustainable Building." The order requires that at least 15% of existing federal buildings and leases that exceed 5,000 sq ft must meet certain guidelines by 2015, with a goal that all new federal buildings achieve zero-net energy by 2030.

Yudelson, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) fellow, took the helm of GBI in January. He says he considers GBI's Green Globes certification program "the best-kept secret in green building."

Yudelson points to recent decisions by the General Services Administration and the Dept. of Defense to permit federal decision-makers to use either LEED or the Green Globes rating system as a sign that the Green Globes are gaining traction.

A handful of states—including, most recently, Mississippi—have enacted either executive orders or laws that effectively ban the use of the LEED rating system on projects. Typically, those laws, backed largely by the timber industry, require that rating systems be used that are based only on an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard. LEED is not based on an ANSI standard; the Green Globes system is.

Despite a relationship that has become acrimonious on occasion, "LEED and the Green Globes do co-exist," Yudelson says. "We don't lobby," he notes, but adds that states "should follow the GSA lead and allow both systems to be used for the rating and certification of their new construction and existing buildings."