It can be awfully confusing for the average consumer when trying to design and build a “Green” building. Just as the Organic food label has come under fire, so too have sectors of the green building movement. Green washing, making a product seem “greener” than it really is, is a growing problem and one that consumers and the government should take seriously. Now, organizations like Greenwash Action are determined to take matters into their own hands and set the record straight.

Spilt paint and house symbol

The GBI accused of Green Washing? Source: Shutterstock.com

Greenwash Action is a relatively new non-profit organization, the product of a joint effort between the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and an Earth Island Institute program. On May 15th, Greenwash Action published an open letter expressing outrage at what they see as green washing by the Green Building Initiative (GBI), one of the nation’s most touted green building assessment certification programs.

The open letter takes a stand against GBI’s claims that, “Green Globes is significantly cheaper and faster to use than LEED.” The statement is made close on the heels of GBI’s previous assertion that LEED is a failed rating system. In fact, according to Greenwash Action, it is GBI who has the least stringent rating criteria, and they are requesting that GBI changes its stance by either tightening up their own sustainable assessment and certification criteria or, “not seek or claim equivalence with higher standards like LEED and Living Building Challenge.”

It will be interesting to see the fallout from this public protest. If nothing else, we hope it encourages building owners to do their homework, or hire professionals who do, so they don’t fall prey to green washing.

Want to make sure your building conforms to sustainable building standards? Work with Leslie Saul & Associates Architecture and Interiors.