At a time when construction market economics have some worried that sustainable development will decline as developers and builders look to control costs, one industry heavyweight has made its position on the environment clear. On July 9, international real estate financial and professional services firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) announced that it had acquired ECD Energy and Environment Canada, best known Stateside as the developer of the technology underlying the Green Globes rating system for the Green Building Initiative (GBI).

The transaction "enhances Jones Lang LaSalle's role as the leading integrated financial and professional services firm specializing in real estate," said Ed McMahon, Charles Fraser Senior Resident Fellow for Sustainable Development at the Urban Land Institute, in a voicemail response to a request for comment. McMahon pointed out that JLL was one of nine winners of this year's Global Sustainable Cities Award, co-sponsored by the institute and Financial Times. The purchase of ECD Energy "is another feather in their cap," McMahon said.

Under the terms of the acquisition-the details of which were not disclosed-Green Globes will be kept independent from JLL and will continue to be operated by the GBI in the United States and by the Building Owners and Managers Association in Canada, where it is known as Go Green.

The business transaction is the latest in a series of JLL actions that solidify its commitment to being environmentally friendly. Late in 2007, JLL acquired Upstream, a leading U.K. sustainability consultancy. The firm has also formalized the industry's first Sustainability University, designed to train employees in sustainable standards and practices. JLL plans to have 500 sustainability-accredited professionals by the end of 2009.

Ward Hubbell, president of GBI, says the group is pleased with the purchase of ECD Energy. "We've had many productive conversations with JLL, and they're well-intentioned in what they want to do. We have a good rapport," says Hubbell, adding that JLL's action is a "validation" of Green Globes and means "the potential we'll have to grow and enhance the system is better."

Since 2005, the GBI has been working to establish Green Globes as commercial building standard approved by American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The group recently completed an ANSI-required public comment period for the proposed standard, which is expected to be published in its final form by year's end.