Green Building Certification
Green Building Certification
Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, buildings use energy, water, and raw materials, generate waste, and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions. These facts have prompted the creation of green building certifications, and rating systems aimed at mitigating the impact of buildings on the natural environment through sustainable design.
A green building is one which uses less water, optimizes energy efficiency, conserves natural resources, generates less waste, and provides healthier spaces for occupants, as compared to a conventional building. Green building certification is a set of rating systems and tools that are used to assess a building or a construction project’s performance from a sustainability and environmental perspective. Such ratings aim to improve the overall quality of buildings and infrastructures, integrate a life cycle approach in its design and construction, and promote the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by the construction industry. Buildings that have been assessed and are deemed to meet a certain level of performance and quality, receive a certificate proving this achievement.
Four principles should be considered when evaluating a building rating or certification system:
• Science-based — Results and decisions must be reproducible by others using the same standard.
• Transparent — Standards and processes for awarding the certification should be transparent and open for examination.
• Objective — The certification body should be free of conflict.
• Progressive — Standards should advance industry practices, not simply reward business as usual.
Sustainability should be a major concern for anyone in the commercial real estate space. According to studies, tenants are willing to pay about a 9% rent premium for green building features. A strong focus on sustainability can also help keep you competitive and it can also increase your property values significantly. Green building certification is a great way to showcase your firm’s focus on sustainability to prospective tenants and investors.
Green building certification systems require an integrated design process to create projects that are environmentally responsible and resource-efficient throughout a building’s life-cycle: from siting to design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation, and demolition. A few of these programs are single-attribute, focusing solely on water or energy, while others are multi-attribute addressing emissions, toxicity, and overall environmental performance in addition to water and energy. While the philosophy, approach, and certification method vary across these systems, a common objective is that projects awarded or certified within these programs are designed to reduce the overall impact of the built environment on human health and the natural environment.
Green building certification systems exist to address every project type from single-family houses and commercial buildings to entire neighborhoods. There are rating systems available for new construction, which focus on decisions made in the planning and design process and actions taken through construction, as well as for existing buildings, which focus on operations and maintenance throughout the life of the building. A primary reason for the creation of certification systems is the need to more clearly define, implement, and measure green strategies and their outcomes and impacts.