In Depth Guide

Green Building Certifications: An In Depth Guide

Table of Contents


Green Building Certifications: An In-Depth Guide


Green building certifications have become increasingly popular in recent years, as more emphasis is placed on sustainable construction practices. These certifications offer a framework for evaluating and recognizing buildings that meet certain environmental standards. This article provides an in-depth guide to green building certifications, exploring their benefits, criteria, and the different certifications available.

The Importance of Green Building Certifications

  • Environmental Impact: Green building certifications aim to reduce the environmental impact of buildings by promoting sustainable design, energy efficiency, and resource conservation.
  • Health and Well-being: Certified green buildings prioritize indoor air quality, natural lighting, and use of non-toxic materials, promoting the health and well-being of occupants.
  • Cost Savings: Green buildings are designed to use resources more efficiently, leading to cost savings in terms of energy and water consumption, as well as maintenance and operation.
  • Market Demand: The demand for green buildings is growing, driven by increased awareness of climate change and sustainability issues.
  • Corporate Responsibility: Many organizations view green building certifications as a way to showcase their commitment to sustainable practices and corporate social responsibility.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

  • LEED Certification Levels: LEED offers different certification levels based on the total points achieved. These levels include Certified, Silver, Gold, and Platinum.
  • Key Criteria: LEED certification evaluates various aspects of a building, including site development, water efficiency, energy usage, material selection, and indoor environmental quality.
  • Benefits of LEED: LEED-certified buildings enjoy benefits such as reduced energy and water consumption, improved indoor air quality, increased market value, and eligibility for local incentives and government grants.
  • LEED in Different Sectors: LEED certifications are available for various building types, including commercial, residential, schools, healthcare facilities, and neighborhood developments.
  • Case Study: LEED Platinum Building: The Bullitt Center in Seattle, Washington, is a renowned example of a LEED Platinum-certified commercial building. It is designed to generate its energy and treats its wastewater onsite.

BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method)

  • BREEAM Certification Levels: BREEAM offers various certification levels, including Pass, Good, Very Good, Excellent, and Outstanding, based on the attained score.
  • Assessment Categories: BREEAM assesses categories such as energy, water, health and well-being, pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology, and management processes.
  • Benefits of BREEAM: BREEAM-certified buildings benefit from reduced environmental impacts, improved occupant comfort, increased asset value, and lower operational costs.
  • BREEAM International: BREEAM certifications are available internationally, adapting to local standards and regulations, making it a widely recognized certification system.
  • Case Study: BREEAM Outstanding Building: The Edge office building in Amsterdam, Netherlands, is one of the most sustainable buildings globally, achieving a BREEAM Outstanding certification due to its low energy consumption and smart technologies.

Living Building Challenge (LBC)

  • Regenerative Design: The Living Building Challenge focuses on regenerative design principles, aiming to create buildings that give more back to the environment than they take.
  • Performance Categories: LBC includes seven performance categories: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity, and Beauty.
  • Net Positive Energy and Water: LBC requires buildings to generate more energy than they consume and to collect and treat all water on-site.
  • Social Equity: LBC emphasizes social equity by promoting diversity, accessibility, and just labor conditions throughout the building process.
  • Case Study: Tyson Living Learning Center: Located in Missouri, the Tyson Living Learning Center is an example of a building that achieved Living Building Challenge certification, featuring regenerative systems and integration with the surrounding ecosystem.

Passive House Certification

  • Energy Efficiency: Passive House certification focuses on reducing a building’s energy demand through careful design, superior insulation, and airtight construction.
  • Specific Performance Criteria: Passive House standards set specific criteria for maximum energy consumption, airtightness, thermal comfort, and indoor air quality.
  • Beyond Energy Efficiency: In addition to energy efficiency, Passive House certification aims to ensure high indoor air quality, thermal comfort, and reduced environmental impact.
  • Cost Effectiveness: Although initial costs may be slightly higher, Passive House buildings achieve significant long-term energy cost savings.
  • Case Study: The Oaks Passive House: The Oaks in California is a multi-unit affordable housing project certified as a Passive House. It demonstrates that sustainable construction can be achieved at scale and affordable prices.

Green Star Certification

  • Australian Standard: Green Star is an Australian-based certification system developed by the Green Building Council of Australia (GBCA).
  • Categorization: Green Star categories include Design & As Built, Interiors, Communities, Performance, and Performance V3.
  • Benefits for Different Stakeholders: Green Star certification offers benefits to building owners, occupants, and the environment by promoting sustainable practices and reducing environmental impacts.
  • Recognition and Market Demand: Green Star-certified buildings receive recognition and contribute to meeting sustainability targets, responding to market demand for green buildings in Australia.
  • Case Study: Pixel Building: The Pixel Building in Victoria, Australia, achieved a 6-star Green Star rating for its sustainable design and integration of renewable energy generation technologies.

WELL Building Standard

  • Focus on Human Health and Well-being: The WELL Building Standard prioritizes human health and well-being by emphasizing aspects such as air quality, water quality, comfort, light, and fitness.
  • Performance Categories: WELL certification focuses on seven performance categories: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind.
  • Benefits for Occupants: WELL-certified buildings provide enhanced indoor environments conducive to productivity, health, and well-being for occupants.
  • Corporate Wellness Programs: The WELL Building Standard aligns with corporate wellness programs, offering employers an opportunity to provide healthier workspaces.
  • Case Study: CBRE Madrid Office: CBRE’s Madrid office became the first project in Spain to achieve WELL Certification, providing a workplace that promotes employee health, comfort, and well-being.

Green Mark Certification

  • Singapore’s National Standard: Green Mark is Singapore’s national green building certification, developed by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA).
  • Evaluation Categories: Green Mark evaluates criteria such as energy efficiency, water efficiency, environmental protection, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable construction practices.
  • Recognition and Incentives: Achieving Green Mark certification provides recognition, market differentiation, and eligibility for various incentives and grants offered by the Singaporean government.
  • Regional Influence: Green Mark has influenced sustainable building practices across Asia, serving as a reference point for other countries in the region.
  • Case Study: CapitaGreen: CapitaGreen, a commercial skyscraper in Singapore, achieved the Green Mark Platinum award for its energy-efficient design, innovative features, and sustainable urban habitat concept.

EDGE (Excellence in Design for Greater Efficiencies)

  • Focus on Resource Efficiency: EDGE certification focuses on resource efficiency, aiming to reduce energy, water, and embodied energy in building materials.
  • Software and Design App: EDGE provides a user-friendly software platform that enables designers to assess and optimize the environmental performance of their designs.
  • Global Applicability: EDGE is applicable to residential, commercial, and hotel building types across various geographical regions.
  • Financial Incentives: EDGE-certified projects may benefit from financial incentives, including preferential loan terms and reduced utility rates in some regions.
  • Case Study: Piyasena House: Piyasena House in Sri Lanka is an example of a residential project that achieved EDGE certification, exceeding energy-saving requirements and reducing water consumption through efficient fixtures.


Green building certifications play a crucial role in promoting sustainability and reducing environmental impacts in the construction industry. From the widely recognized LEED and BREEAM certifications to innovative programs like the Living Building Challenge and WELL Building Standard, these certifications provide a roadmap for designing and constructing green buildings. Whether it is through energy efficiency, resource conservation, or occupant well-being, green building certifications drive positive change by raising awareness, setting performance standards, and facilitating market transformation.