The U.S. building sector is responsible for 73% of the nation’s electricity consumption, 38% of carbon emissions, 61% of waste generation, and 13.6% of water use. The national adoption of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), ENERGY STAR, and other green building certifications has grown significantly over the past decade, and the transparency of building performance data is both stimulating competition and providing owners with direct rewards for improved performance. Certification standards are tools of measurement, verification, and validation that provide a consistent and credible benchmarking tool for green buildings. By helping to continuously raise the bar for sustainable building standards, green building rating systems act as a seal of approval that lend credibility and validation to sustainable projects.
Both ENERGY STAR and LEED are constantly evolving to respond to the markets and become more streamlined, helping owners of large portfolios to automate their utility data and track ongoing performance with the vision of the high-performing building being a sort of ecosystem and collection of programs, benchmarking, ENERGY STAR, certifications, and awards.
The Living Building Challenges goes above and beyond LEED, focusing on a building’s performance over a minimum of 12 months and targeting improvements in sustainability goals in terms of water, energy, and waste.
Other rating systems such as BREEAM (BRE Environmental Assessment Method) and Green Globes are gaining traction in the U.S. market and internationally, helping clients measure and reduce the environmental impacts of their buildings to create higher value and lower risk assets.
WELL and Fitwell certifications shift the focus from the building to the occupants, targeting the health and wellness of the occupant specifically. These wellness certifications are recommended to be pursued in combination with green building certifications as a comprehensive approach to addressing all criteria of a sustainable building, wellbeing of people, and a healthier community.