Jones Lang LaSalle Acquires Toronto Firm That Developed Green Globes

Jones Lang LaSalle Acquires Toronto Firm That Developed Green Globes

Commercial real estate services giant Jones Lang LaSalle has acquired an environmental consulting firm best known for developing the buildings rating system Green Globes, an online interactive assessment tool viewed variously as an alternative, competitor or complement to the U.S. heavy-hitter Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

In a move announced this week, Jones Lang LaSalle acquired ECD Energy and Environment Canada Ltd. ECD developed Green Globes, which is licensed and overseen in the U.S. by the nonprofit Green Building Initiative in Portland, Ore., and Go Green, which is overseen by the Building Owners and Managers Association in Canada.

Both Jones Lang LaSalle and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), which developed the LEED green building certification system, characterized the transaction as it relates to Green Globes in positive terms.

In the arena of benchmarking and certification of green buildings, Green Globes and LEED are often portrayed as rival systems with similar structures and core values for green building, but somewhat different measurements and standards.

In speaking of the acquisition, Jones Lang LaSalle executives focused on Green Globes as a tool that complements the LEED program, rather than as a challenger to the LEED system. In turn, the USGBC described the acquisition as the latest example of the growing acceptance of greening as "an integrated approach to sound building management" in a statement to CoStar Advisor.

"It's actually to everybody's benefit to have strong green buildings standards, so it's not entirely surprising to me that they're not trashing each other but trying to promote the green building industry as a whole," said Shari Shapiro, a guest columnist for GreenerBuildings and an associate with Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell & Hippel LLP in Philadelphia, Penn. A LEED Accredited Professional, she heads Obermayer's Green Building initiative.

"The industry is too new for them to compete to exclude each other from the market," Shapiro said. "As far as the USGBC is concerned, this is a very positive thing. JLL is in the business of providing real estate services. If it is spinning Green Globes as a tool to evaluate the greenness of buildings, as opposed to certification, then that means that LEED is the default certification."

The acquisition of ECD is the most recent example of Jones Lang LaSalle's commitment to being not only a leader in global commercial real estate services, but also a leader in environmental responsibility for the industry, said Craig Bloomfield, vice president of public relations for Jones Lang LaSalle. The firm has made a commitment to have 200 green accredited professionals by the end of 2008 and 500 by the end of 2009.

"We're definitely working toward that goal with this and we also clearly believe in LEED as that standard," Bloomfield said, noting that he was certified as a LEED Accredited Professional on Wednesday. While Green Globes also has value as a good standard, he said, his company views Green Globes as an important tool in the drive to green buildings.

"We've found in using Green Globes for our clients before the acquisition is that it's great to help them pursue LEED gap assessments," said Bloomfield. Green Globes helps building owners understand how to move their green needle, how making different choices affects the eco-friendliness of their properties, and gives them a good idea of the return on investment for greening various aspects of their properties, he said.

"It's an online, easy-to-use interactive tool," he said. "It can tell you, 'Here is where you stand now,' 'Here is where you can be in a year's time.' We see a huge demand for this.

"People want metrics. They want benchmarks. They want to see how their building compares to other buildings and how it compares to their other buildings. With Green Globes, you can look at your entire portfolio to identify areas for improvement. As a tool, Green Globes is far and away the best to help identify a practical path to sustainability."